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Definition

A meniscectomy is the removal of all or part of the cartilage in the knee joint.

Knee Arthroscopy
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Reasons for Procedure

A meniscectomy is done when the cartilage is damaged. This can cause pain and limit motion in the knee.

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will review potential problems, such as:

  • Infection
  • Excess bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Lasting weakness in knee joint
  • Worsening or unchanged pain
  • Damage to nearby nerves around the knee

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Smoking
  • Chronic health problems, such as diabetes and obesity

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Before surgery:

  • Arrange for a ride to and from the hospital.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the day before surgery.
  • Talk to the doctor about any allergies you have.
  • Talk to the doctor about the medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take. Some may cause problems during surgery or recovery. They may need to be stopped up to one week before surgery.
  • Arrange for help at home while you recover.
  • Prepare a bedroom on the first floor if possible. Climbing stairs will be hard at first.

Anesthesia

General anesthesia will block pain and keep you asleep. Regional anesthesia may be used to numb the lower part of the body.

Description of the Procedure

There are two ways to do this surgery. Arthroscopy uses a small incision. Open surgery uses a larger incision, but it is not as common. Other repairs may also be done during surgery.

Arthroscopy

Small incisions are made around the knee. Special tools are inserted into the knee joint. A tiny camera will provide a view of the inside of the knee. All or part of the meniscus will be removed to make smoother surfaces. A drain may be left in to allow extra fluid to flow out. The incisions are closed with stitches.

Open Surgery

A larger incision is made over the knee joint. All or part of the meniscus will be removed to make smoother surfaces. A drain may be left in to allow extra fluid to flow out. The incision is closed with stitches.

How Long Will It Take?

Less than 1 hour

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will block pain during surgery. There will be pain during recovery. Medicine and home care can help.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

After the procedure, the staff will:

  • Give pain medicine
  • Put compression stockings on the legs to lower the risk of blood clots
  • Wrap the knee with a cold pack to ease pain and swelling
  • Ask you to move your foot and ankle to promote blood flow
  • Teach you how to use a walker , crutches , or other support devices
At Home

It will take 3 to 6 weeks for the incision and knee joint to fully heal. Exercises will help with recovery. Some physical activities will need to be limited. Help will be needed to do daily tasks.

Antibiotics may be needed before dental procedures and surgeries. This helps lower the risk of infection in the new joint.

Call Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Pain that you cannot control with medicine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Redness, swelling, pain, a lot of bleeding, or discharge from the incision
  • Swelling, redness, or pain in either calf
  • Swollen, discolored, or cold toes
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • New or worsening symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine  http://www.sportsmed.org 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons  http://orthoinfo.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Orthopaedic Association  http://www.coa-aco.org 

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation  http://www.canorth.org 

References

Arthroscopy. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test%5Fprocedures/orthopaedic/arthroscopy%5Fprocedure%5F92,P07676/. Accessed March 27, 2018.

Frank RM, Cole BJ. Meniscus transplantation. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2015 Dec;8(4):443-450.

Knee arthroscopy. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00299. Updated September 2016. Accessed March 27, 2018.

Management of meniscus tears. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/management/management-of-meniscus-tears  . Updated October 31, 2019. Accessed March 30, 2020.

Revision Information