Meniscal Repair vs. Debridement

The surgical repair or debridement of a torn meniscus, a wedge-shaped cartilage disc that cushions and absorbs shock in the knee.

Meniscal Repair vs. Debridement

The meniscus is a wedge-shaped cartilage disc in the knee that cushions and absorbs shock between the femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone). Mensical tears often result in pain, swelling, stiffness, a catching or locking sensation, and sometimes weakness in the knee. Through a clinical exam and some advanced imaging, your doctor can determine the size, location and type of tear that is present. Conservative treatment with the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, elevation), NSAIDs and eventually physical therapy are often first-line treatment options for acute and/or minor tears. If symptoms persist or the knee is unstable, surgical intervention may be necessary. The outside third of the meniscus, or peripheral meniscus, has a rich blood supply (also known as the “red zone”), and if a tear occurs here a meniscal repair can be performed through a knee arthroscopy (See “Knee Arthroscopy” for more information). If the tear is located at the inner two-thirds of the meniscus, which lacks a blood supply (also known as the “white zone”), then the proper surgical intervention would be to debride away the unstable meniscus. Both of these surgical treatment options are performed in an outpatient ambulatory surgery center where the patient recovers at home post-operatively. The post-operative course will be tailored to the type of procedure performed, where a repair would require a period of immobilization and some weight bearing restrictions and a debridement would require fewer restrictions.

Left: Partial meniscal debridement for a tear in the “white zone”; Right: Meniscus repair for a tear in the “red zone”

Personalized care

As our patient, you will have an in-depth consultation with one of our doctors. We will create an individualized treatment plan together, tailored to your problem and lifestyle. Our doctors prefer non-invasive treatments whenever possible, including physical therapy and/or injections. If your problem ultimately does require surgery, our doctors prefer the least invasive surgical techniques possible. Our goals are the same as yours: to get you back to living your best life, pain free. 

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