While some types of movements, such as crossovers in basketball, are enjoyable to watch, they often lead to a torn meniscus. This is one of the most common knee injuries, especially among athletes.
Left untreated, a torn meniscus can loosen and slip into the joint of the knee. If this happens, the patient might require surgery to restore the complete function of the knee, which, naturally, will be more complex for the orthopedic surgeon to carry out.
Because a torn meniscus may lead to serious complications, it is recommended the patient seeks medical attention as soon as they experience this injury.
Depending on the size, type, and location of the meniscus tear, there are multiple treatment approaches for the patient. If non-invasive treatments fail to heal a mildly torn meniscus, the patient will have to undergo surgery. Non-invasive treatments refer to:
However, by virtue of arthroscopy, most people with a torn meniscus will be able to have minimally invasive surgery. During a meniscus repair performed arthroscopically, the orthopedic surgeon will make several tiny incisions in the knee and then insert a small camera – the arthroscope – into the knee. This way, they will be able to view the tear and insert the appropriate surgical instruments to stitch the tear together. Over time, the body will absorb the stitches.
As for a meniscal transplant, this is a radical surgery. If the meniscus is extremely damaged, so bad that it cannot be repaired, it will have to be removed and subsequently replaced with donor tissue that will act as the patient's new meniscus. It is worthy of note that not everyone with a severely torn meniscus will be a good candidate for a meniscal transplant. For instance, people who already have arthritis in their knees will not benefit from this procedure.
On the other hand, active people who are younger than 40 may be eligible for a meniscal transplant. The purpose of a meniscal transplant is to replace the meniscus cushion before the articular cartilage is damaged. Once again, this procedure can be carried out arthroscopically for a lower risk of postoperative complications and a faster recovery. Many factors can contribute to the successful outcome of a meniscal transplant, some of them being:
When it comes to recovery, it usually takes longer for a meniscus repair to heal than a meniscectomy. Complete recovery may take anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months. If the patient underwent a meniscal transplant, they will have to rest and stay off their feet as much as possible for 2 weeks. To give the new meniscus time to heal properly, the patient will likely need to take a break from playing sports and doing strenuous activities for 6 to 12 months.