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What is a Meniscectomy: Everything You Need to Know About the Meniscectomy Procedure

The meniscus is a C-shaped fibrocartilage located in the knee that serves as a protective structure and shock absorber between the thighbone and shinbone. It also aids in distributing the axial load evenly, lubricates the knee joint, and stabilizes it for optimal movement. There are two of them located on each knee.

  • Medial meniscus located on the inside of the knee.
  • Lateral meniscus located on the outside part of the knee.

But no matter how tough this cartilage can be, a meniscus is still vulnerable to tears and damage. According to studies, meniscus injuries are common and affect about 1 million individuals in the US yearly. Treatment depends on many factors, but many are treated by performing a meniscectomy.. 

If you have a scheduled meniscus repair surgery, then you have nothing to worry about. Below is an in-depth discussion on why you need it and the nitty-gritty of what happens before, during, and after the surgery.

What is a meniscectomy?

A meniscectomy or meniscal repair refers to a surgical procedure used to repair a damaged meniscus in the knee. It is usually performed for severe cases of meniscus tears or when conservative options fail to improve or manage its symptoms. 

A meniscectomy can be performed in a variety of ways depending on the severity, location, and size of the injury. Your orthopedic surgeon will assess your situation and decide whether to perform a:

  • Partial procedure (only the damaged section is removed) or a complete surgery (wherein both the meniscus and rim are removed).
  • An arthroscopic procedure or traditional open surgery.

When do you need a meniscectomy?

Minor meniscus tears can heal with non-surgical options, such as RICE therapy and pain medications. Orthopedic surgeons may recommend surgery if: 

  • Severe vascular damage
  • A large portion of the meniscus has been damaged
  • The tear does not heal or improve with non-surgical methods. 

However, the type of surgery to be performed will still depend on the patient’s age, activity level, symptoms, location of the injury, size, and cause of the tear. 

How can you prepare before the procedure?

Before the surgery, you will undergo a series of pre-operative tests, such as medical history review, physical examination, blood tests, and imaging exams. These procedures will allow your doctor to determine if you are a good candidate for meniscus surgery. 

Once you’re cleared, your doctor will give you specific medical instructions, such as what medicines you should stop taking, when to stop eating, or when to quit smoking.

Additionally, it would be good to make home and work arrangements beforehand to help you get ready during the recovery period. This includes taking time off work, getting someone to drive you home after the procedure, and making temporary sleeping arrangements.

What happens during a meniscectomy?

The procedure begins by administering either spinal or general anesthesia so that you won’t feel any pain during the surgery. Your surgeon can either perform an arthroscopic surgery or an open surgery, depending on your conditions. 

  • An arthroscopic surgery involves three small incisions on the affected site. A thin, flexible, lighted scope will be inserted into it, as well as other specialized tools. The doctor will then begin to perform the required procedures, such as removing the damaged parts, trimming the frays, or repairing the minute tears through sutures. 
  • Traditional, open surgery involves a large incision to access the knee joint. The tears are identified and then repaired or removed. 

Once done, your surgeon will suture the incision and close it with staples or gauze pads. You will then be transferred into a recovery room, where you’ll rest and wait until the anesthesia wears off. While in there, a team of medical professionals will monitor your vital signs and attend to your medical needs. 

What to expect after the surgery?

It is normal to feel pain and swelling immediately after the operation. Your doctor will provide proper medications to help reduce these symptoms. 

Meniscus repair using an arthroscopic procedure is an outpatient operation, which means you can go home on the day of the surgery. However, open surgeries might require patients to stay for a few days to recover.  Some of the post-operative recovery strategies you need to do include the following:

  • You will need to undergo physiotherapy or home exercises to help restore muscle strength and knee joint mobility. 
  • You will need a knee brace to help stabilize the operated knee while it heals. Your doctor may also recommend crutches for about a week so you won’t put much weight onto the healing joint. 
  • Perform RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).
  • You will be instructed regarding proper wound care and medication administration to prevent infection.

Your doctor will then schedule regular appointments so they can check the healing progress of your knees. Additionally, they will use this time to evaluate your condition and clear you for certain activities.

Frequently asked questions about meniscectomy

Is the procedure painful?

No. You will be numb or sedated during the procedure so that you won’t feel anything. However, you will experience pain and discomfort after the anesthesia wears off. But there’s nothing to worry about, as pain and anti-inflammatory medications can help relieve these symptoms.

What is the length of recovery for a meniscectomy?

The recovery time varies depending on the technique used and the severity of the meniscus damage. Normally, a patient who has undergone arthroscopic meniscus repair takes at least 6 to 8 weeks before they can return to their normal, day-to-day activities again, such as work and sports.

What are the benefits of a meniscectomy?

Most individuals who had undergone a meniscectomy experienced significant pain relief in their knee joints. This resulted in improved mobility, better knee stability, and prevented further knee joint injury. 

raleigh orthopedic panther creek

Where to get a meniscectomy in North Carolina?

UNC Orthopaedics at Panther Creek is one of the leading providers of orthopedic care and treatment services in the area. We offer advanced techniques and high-quality procedures to treat various orthopedic injuries and conditions. 

Get yourself checked by one of our board-certified specialists at Raleigh Orthopedic or Panther Creek

Contact us now to learn more!

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

outpatient orthopedic surgery cary
6715 McCrimmon Parkway
Suite 205 A 
Cary, NC 27519
Monday – Friday: 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
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