The meniscus is a structure that facilitates the mobility of the knee. It is a cartilaginous structure.
There are two menisci:
Meniscectomy is a procedure to restore the damage to either of the menisci.
The procedure may require removal of only the damaged part of the meniscus – partial meniscectomy or may need the complete removal of the meniscus – total meniscectomy.
A meniscectomy is done in the eventuality of a knee injury, where the meniscus is torn or damaged.
Minor tears generally heal on their own and may not need surgery, however, the severe tears need surgical repair.
Surgery becomes imperative when:
Ice and rest, do not improve or facilitate healing of the tear.
Knee becomes locked.
The alignment of the knee is disrupted.
Whether a partial or total meniscectomy will be needed is decided by the following factors:
Cause of the tear
Discomfort caused by the tear
Open surgery which may require a hospital stay.
Arthroscopic surgery, whereby the patient can go home the same day.
Surrounding the knee three small incisions are made. One incision is used to introduce a lighted scope attached to a camera.
This allows the doctor to navigate and get a clear picture of the damage and where the repair needs to be surgically performed. Through the other two incisions, surgical instruments are inserted.
The tear is located using the lighted scope and camera, and depending on the degree of damage, partial or total meniscectomy is performed.
Once removed, the instruments are withdrawn and incisions sutured or surgical tape is applied.
The patient after the surgery is shifted to the recovery room. As the sedation wears off, the patient will experience pain. The knee is expected to be swollen because of the surgery.
The swelling is managed by maintaining the knee at an elevated position and regular icing of the knee for a couple of days post-surgery.
Pain is managed by prescribed painkiller medication.
The patient should ideally be able to put weight on the knee and stand as well as walk, once taken out from the recovery room.
However, the patient will need crutches for up to a week. The doctor guides the patient with how much weight-bearing the knee can sustain and gradually increases it up to the point normal weight-bearing is achieved.
The doctor then puts the patient on light exercises for the knee to gain strength and mobility.
These are then followed by sessions with a physiotherapist who further facilitates the recovery through a regimen of exercises to restore the functionality of the operated knee.
By the third day of the surgery, the patient can perform daily activities. However, rigorous activities and prolonged hours of standing are still prohibited.
Within a week or two weeks, the patient will be able to achieve a full range of mobility. Driving also should be possible should the recovery be as expected.
By three weeks with the regimen of exercises, the patient should also have improved muscle strength.
By four to six weeks the patient can resume sports, heavy-lifting and activities involving prolonged hours of standing as well.
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