Knee has two types of cartilage. One is the meniscus which is a crescent shaped rubbery structure that cushions and stabilizes the knee in addition to some other functions.
There are two menisci in the knee joint, one on the inner side (medial meniscus) and one on the outer side of the knee (lateral meniscus).
The other type of knee cartilage is the thin, glistening type cartilage which covers the end of each bone at the joint level .
This second type of cartilage is also called articular cartilage and we will discuss it’s injuries and treatment options elsewhere in this website.
Meniscal injuries often (not always) occur during a sport activity and are usually tears. There are variety type of tears and usually occurs as a result of pivoting, twisting, turning, cutting and decelerating.
The most common symptoms are tenderness at the joint line, swelling, fluid collection in the knee, sensation of catching and at times if there is a large displaced fragment, knee can be locked at one position.
Listening to the patient describing the mechanism of injury, a careful and delicate physical examination and finally a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) will confirm the presence of a meniscal tear.
Very rarely meniscal tear is identified during an arthroscopic procedures performed for other reasons.
Another type of tear which is occasionally encountered in arthroscopic procedures performed in individuals suffering from degenerative arthritis of the knee is degenerative tears of the meniscus or menisci.
Treatment of meniscal tears depend on the type and location of the tear. Some secondary factors may also influence the treatment method including:
Age, activity level, sport, occupation, weight and overall medical condition of the individual.
Arthroscopic surgery is the most often method of treatment and utilizing this technique orthopaedic surgeon specializing in arthroscopic surgical techniques can perform one of the followings:
Arthroscopic partial menisectomy (removal of the torn piece)
Arthroscopic subtotal menisectomy (removal of the majority of the meniscus)
Arthroscopic total menisectomy (removal of the entire meniscus)
Arthroscopic meniscal repair ( this method preserve the meniscus and it’s important function in the knee , especially in a young individual)
Arthroscopic/and or open meniscal transplantation (in this method individual will receive a meniscus from a tissue bank (allograft) which replaces the meniscus that individual has lost either with prior surgery or injury.
Meniscal injuries can occasionally be on both sides (medial and lateral) and rarely can present in both knees simultaneously.