The meniscus is a cartilage in your knee that connects the thigh to the shin bone. Surgery may be required to remove or repair damaged cartilage, with athletes prone to injuries of the meniscus. However, it can also occur if you lift something too heavy in day to day life. You will be offered surgery if the rupture is severe or if physiotherapy has not worked.
What is Meniscus Surgery?
Meniscus surgery is a common operation to remove or repair a torn meniscus, a piece of cartilage in the knee. The surgery requires a few small incisions and takes about an hour. Recovery and rehabilitation usually take a few weeks. However, the procedure can reduce pain, improve mobility and stability and get you back to life’s activities, exercise and sports once again.
Types of Surgery for the Meniscus
There are a variety of ways in which the meniscus may require operating on, which will likely be one of the following:
- Arthroscopic Repair: Your surgeon will make small cuts in your knee. They will then insert an arthroscope to get a good look at the tear. Then they will place small devices that look like darts along the tear to stitch it up. Your body will absorb these over time
- Arthroscopic Partial Meniscectomy: Your surgeon will remove a piece of the torn meniscus so your knee can function normally
- Arthroscopic Total Meniscectomy: During this procedure, your surgeon will remove the whole meniscus
What Are The Benefits of Meniscus Surgery?
A damaged or injured meniscus can be incredibly painful for patients prior to surgery. Thus, undergoing meniscus surgery can come with any or all of the following benefits:
- Fixed torn cartilage
- Pain relief
- Increased mobility
- Most successful in younger people
- Good stability in the knees
How Do I Know If I Need Meniscus Surgery?
There are a few signs and symptoms, as well as tell-tale signs that may indicate you need meniscus surgery, including:
- Popping sensation
- Swelling or stiffness
- Pain when twisting or rotating your knee
- Difficulty straightening your knee fully
- Feeling as if your knee is locked in place when trying to move it
- Feeling of your knee giving way
The Meniscus Surgery Procedure Explained
This procedure is carried out under general anaesthetic and can be performed as an arthroscopy. The surgeon makes a few incisions on either side of the knee and the arthroscope is inserted. The joint is flooded with fluid to allow for visualisation. Damaged or free-floating cartilage is removed, and the torn meniscus is identified and re-joined, either using stitches or using metal anchors, and the incisions are closed using stitches. This procedure is typically performed as an outpatient procedure and crutches may be required. Additionally, physiotherapy will more than likely be needed after that.
What Are The Risks of Meniscus Surgery?
Meniscus surgery is generally minimally invasive. However, there are some risks to consider prior to undergoing this type of surgery:
- Progression of cartilage damage
- Blood clotting
How Much Does Meniscus Surgery Cost in the UK?
- Privately in the UK, meniscus surgery costs around £3,000.
- This treatment is available on the NHS for those who meet the criteria, however there is a long waiting list, as with other non-urgent orthopaedic surgeries and procedures.