Meniscal repair

The meniscus is a crescentic cartilage between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shinbone). It acts as a shock absorber and evenly distributes the fluid in the knee joint. If it is torn the torn bit of the meniscus can often catch in the knee causing symptoms like pain, clicking and giving way of the knee.  This is also commonly known as 'a torn cartilage'.

The commonest procedure undertaken to address a torn meniscus is an arthroscopic menisectomy, where the torn part of the cartilage is removed by the keyhole technique leaving most of the cartilage behind. Though this provides pain relief, if a large part of the cartilage is removed this can lead to progressive wear and tear leading to early arthritis, particularly in a young individual.

At times it is possible to repair a torn cartilage by the keyhole technique, allowing the torn cartilage to heal and preserve its function. The repair can be done under certain conditions. The tear has to be near the outer edge of th ecartilage, where the cartilage has a blood supply and the tear has to be a linear one. Under these conditions the meniscus can be repaired using a type of suture anchor. Following the surgery a knee brace is often needed for a period of six weeks and the bend in the knee is restricted for six weeks to allow the cartilage to heal without re-tearing. If you undergo a meniscal repair you may not be able to put full weight through the leg for the first six weeks and will need to mobilise using a pair of crutches.

The risks of a meniscal repair include infection and deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in the leg veins). Despite repairing a tear that satisfies all the required criteria there is a 20% chance of failure of repair. This needs a second keyhole procedure to remove the torn part of the cartilage which has not healed.