An Alternative To Knee Replacement
The knees are prone to breaking down with advanced age, especially among those previously active, like gym enthusiasts or athletes. Eventually, and damage to surrounding cartilage, like the meniscus, can occur. Over time, a surgeon may suggest knee replacement surgery. However, there may be some benefit in choosing a meniscal repair instead. This non-replacement surgery allows for the natural function of the knee for longer.
What is a meniscal tear?
The C-shaped cartilage structures that sit between the femur and tibia are known as menisci and are designed to absorb shock and help stabilize the knee. A meniscus injury can start with a simple twist or trauma to the area, but most cases happen due to wear and tear over time. There are different types of meniscus tears, indicated by the location and shape of the tear. Common signs of meniscus damage include swelling, pain, and a clicking sound when extending the knee. Eventually, meniscus tears lead to limited movement. About 75% of people with untreated meniscus tears develop osteoarthritis,
Meniscal repair or knee replacement
There are pros and cons to each procedure. A knee replacement involves removing part or all of the damaged cartilage and bone. From there, a metal, plastic, or ceramic prosthetic is installed. Knee replacements have high success rates and can be performed with minimally invasive methods. However, some surgeons and patients prefer not to remove the natural knee. There is also a slight chance of a failed joint replacement. When such concerns arise, a doctor may recommend a meniscal repair. This minimally invasive surgery removes or repairs the menisci, providing similar post-op knee function. Doctors will consider the patient's age, health, and the extent of damage to the cartilage before recommending a specific approach. Meniscal repair preserves the natural knee, offering numerous benefits. However, a knee replacement is best if non-invasive procedures fail or the meniscus has significantly degenerated.
Benefits of repair
The meniscal repair offers the patient excellent benefits and minimal risks. The surgery can restore the normal functions of the knee by targeting the root cause, improving mobility in the long run. The minimally invasive surgery also means less pain, minor scars, and a faster recovery. Finally, there are fewer complications. This non-invasive surgery reduces the risk of blood clots, possible nerve damage, and the need for total knee surgery. The meniscal repair procedure is a nice median between ineffective conservative treatments and a total knee replacement.
Surgeons perform close to 1 million knee replacements yearly. The procedure has helped many people with chronic knee pain. However, for patients who wish to avoid replacing the entire knee with a prosthetic, a meniscal repair can help by addressing damaged cartilage causing pain, stiffness, and reduced flexibility. A surgeon can assess the knee and help the patient make the right decision.