Arthroscopic meniscus surgery is the most commonly used treatment for a torn meniscus. To perform the surgery, a small camera is inserted into the knee. This is used to guide the instruments which repair or remove parts of the meniscus. Arthroscopic meniscus surgery is one of the least invasive types of surgery, and recovery time is approximately four months for most people.
The meniscus is a piece of tissue in the knee that helps to dissipate force and provide cushioning. There are two meniscuses in the knee, one on either side. The medial meniscus, on the inner side, is most commonly injured during athletic activities. When a meniscus becomes torn, surgery is usually required to remove the damaged tissue, otherwise the problem can become worse and potentially develop into arthritis.
Arthroscopic meniscus surgery is nearly always required for this type of injury, as it is often highly effective. Arthroscopic surgery is performed using a camera and other small instruments which are inserted through portals, or small incisions. These are often located beneath the knee. Arthroscopic meniscus surgery usually involves removing the damaged tissue, although in some cases a repair or even replacement may be required.
The two major benefits of arthroscopic meniscus surgery are that it is minimally invasive and it is usually successful without additional complications. The chance of success, however, depends on how soon after the injury the surgery is performed. In most cases, the best results are seen if the patient goes in for surgery between one to two months after the initial injury. It’s important that a person undergoing arthroscopic surgery understands that while the chance of an additional problem is low, there is always some risk associated with any operation.
Recovery after arthroscopic meniscus surgery depends on the difficulty of the procedure and the health of the patient. The surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis, which means that there is no overnight stay required. Both general local and anesthesia can be used for the operation, and this can affect how long the patient must stay in the hospital.
Immediately after the surgery, pain medication will usually be prescribed, and ice therapy may be used to reduce swelling. As soon as possible after surgery, a physically therapist will start rehabilitating the knee to regain range of motion and increase muscle strength which may have been lost. In most cases, the patient will be back to full fitness approximately four months after the surgery.