The meniscus is a cartilage structure that helps the knee work properly. There are two different menisci in the knee – the lateral meniscus, near the outer edge of the knee joint, and the medial meniscus, near the edge on the inside of the knee. People who have a damaged meniscus often require a meniscectomy, which can be partial or total. During partial meniscectomy, only the damaged part of the meniscus is removed, while during total meniscectomy, the entire meniscus is removed.
The most common reason people need to undergo a meniscectomy is a torn meniscus, one of the most prevalent knee injuries. Roughly 66 out of 100,000 individuals tear a meniscus every year in the United States. The goal of meniscectomy is to remove the fragments of the meniscus that stick out into the joint, as they can interfere with joint movement and cause the knee to lock. While minor tears usually heal on their own, without surgery, more severe tears require a surgical procedure.
Meniscectomy can be performed using traditional, open surgery, or arthroscopic surgery, which is minimally invasive and entails tiny incisions. The patient will undergo arthroscopic surgery whenever possible, as it causes less muscle and tissue damage and speeds up recovery. However, undergoing arthroscopic surgery is sometimes not a viable option. Whether you can undergo arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus or open surgery depends on factors such as:
During arthroscopic meniscectomy, 3 small incisions are made around your knee by the orthopedic surgeon. Subsequently, a lighted scope with a camera at the end is inserted through one of the incisions, which is the arthroscope, and other medical instruments will also be used to perform the surgery. The arthroscope's camera is extremely useful, as it allows the surgeon to view and examine the meniscus tear in great detail. Once the tear is found, a tiny piece of the meniscus or the entire meniscus is removed, and the incisions are closed.
Depending on the surgical approach used, recovery will take 4 to 6 weeks. Naturally, the recovery time following arthroscopic surgery will be shorter. The pain and swelling will get better quickly. By the second or third day after the procedure, you should be able to perform daily activities such as light household chores. You will also be able to return to work if your job does not entail a lot of standing, walking, or heavy lifting.