Meniscus repair surgery preserves the knee cushion pads, which can prevent future arthritis. A meniscus repair requires knowledge of the meniscal tear pattern and location, along with ample blood supply, to allow for successful healing after the repair. Meniscal repairs require stability in the knee. Most meniscus repairs are performed on pediatric and adolescent patients, whose menisci have a robust blood supply, or when the knee is being stabilized during anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructive surgery which results in significant blood and growth factors in the knee from the ACL treatment. Patients with smaller tears, or degenerative tear patterns, or tears in a location with a poor blood supply, are treated with partial meniscectomy.
During meniscus repair, your physician may use an arthroscopic technique through small incisions, to sew the meniscus back together. Sometimes your physician will require additional larger incisions for meniscus repair, depending on many factors. If an ACL reconstruction is being performed, your physician may perform both procedures during the same surgery.
It’s important to note that your physician should work diligently to save the meniscus using meniscus repair. However, some meniscus repairs may fail to heal, resulting in a need for further surgery to remove the tear. Also, many patients will not be meniscus repair candidates, as above; these patients will require partial meniscectomy.
Following meniscus repair, patients will be given a strict, personalized, physical therapy and rehabilitation protocol. Generally, patients are allowed full motion when off of their feet (non-weight bearing full range-of-motion), with controlled motion with the knee locked straight in a brace for walking, or touching the foot to the ground, or bearing weight. The brace is unlocked or removed for non-weight bearing movement. Bracing may be required for 6 weeks. Physical therapy to regain range of motion and strength will begin immediately after surgery. Most patients return to sport in 10-12 weeks after meniscus repair, unless they require additional rehabilitation for ACL or other surgery in addition to the meniscus.