Meniscus surgery

What is a meniscus?

The meniscus is the shock absorber of the knee. This component of the knee is located between the thigh bone (femur) and the shinbone (tibia). Protecting the cartilage and stabilizing the knee are the two main functions of the meniscus. The knee has one meniscus on the inner side (medial meniscus) and one on the outer side (lateral meniscus). These shock absorbers consist of special elastic fibrous tissue that allows the shape of the meniscus to continually adapt to the shape of the knee as it extends and flexes. The meniscus can tear, which is a common issue in the knee.
Voorste kruisband reconstructie

What are the symptoms of a torn meniscus?

  • Pain and swelling of the knee.
  • Feeling a clicking sensation in the knee.
  • In cases of large meniscus tears, the knee may become locked, making it difficult to fully extend or flex. This is known as a locked knee.
  • Feeling a sense of instability in the knee.

What causes a torn meniscus?

A meniscus can tear due to a fall or a twisting motion of the knee.

How is the diagnosis made?

The diagnosis of a torn meniscus is made during the consultation and physical examination at the outpatient clinic. Additionally, an MRI scan of the knee is always performed to accurately assess the location and type of tear.

How is a torn meniscus treated?

If your meniscus is torn, it does not always require surgery. If there is no locked knee or clicking sensation in the knee, the symptoms can often be effectively treated with a short course of anti-inflammatory medication and a few weeks of physiotherapy. If these conservative measures do not alleviate the symptoms or if the aforementioned symptoms are present, a knee arthroscopy may be considered. During this procedure, the entire knee can be inspected through two small incisions, allowing for a clear view of the torn meniscus.
meniscus operatie

In the image above, you can see the different patterns of a torn meniscus. During the surgery, the surgeon will always assess whether the meniscus can be repaired. If it is not possible to repair the meniscus, only a minimal portion will be removed to alleviate your symptoms while preserving its function as much as possible.

Is the meniscus always removed?

No, ideally we prefer not to remove the meniscus in order to preserve its function. During the surgery, the surgeon will assess if the torn meniscus can be repaired. If it cannot be repaired, the damaged portion of the meniscus will be partially removed. This depends on the type and location of the tear, as well as the patient’s age.

What does the rehabilitation process look like?

The surgery is performed as a day procedure, and you are typically allowed to go home on the same day. If a portion of the meniscus is removed, you may be able to bear weight on it guided by pain. It usually takes an average of 6 to 10 weeks for full recovery.

If your meniscus is repaired, the postoperative rehabilitation will differ depending on the type of tear that was repaired. Generally, the total rehabilitation period after a meniscus repair is about 4 to 6 months before you can fully return to sports activities. However, after 6 weeks, you should be able to resume normal activities in daily life.