Partial Meniscectomy

Both of your knees have two C-shaped pieces of cartilage positioned between the femur and the tibia. They act as cushions, with one located on either side of the knee joint. Their purpose is to help distribute the weight transferred from the femur to the tibia evenly across the knee and provide stability to the knee joint.


When the meniscus gets torn, it will not heal on its own. Surgery is necessary to either remove the torn part of the meniscus or repair the tear. A partial or full meniscectomy will be recommended by your orthopaedic surgeon based on the size and severity of the tear. A partial meniscectomy is usually preferred as it preserves as much of the healthy tissue as possible. Total removal of the menisci significantly reduces the stability in the knee joint, so surgeons generally try to avoid this procedure if not necessary.

Causes of a Partial Meniscectomy

A torn meniscus is one of the most common knee injuries for people of all ages. In younger patients, they are likely caused by a sports injury. For older patients, the meniscus is weaker and easier to tear, so it can be caused by squatting, twisting, or a fall. However, any activity that requires forceful twisting or rotating of the knee, particularly with your full weight can lead to a torn meniscus.

Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear

Knee pain is the most common symptom people mention when they are diagnosed with a meniscus tear. The pain could be felt along the joint line where the meniscus is located. If the tear is large enough, locking of the knee joint might occur. This means that the patient is unable to fully straighten the knee or unable to move the knee at all. The locking occurs when a piece of the torn meniscus is stuck between the bones. Patients could also feel a popping sensation in the knee or feel like their knee gives out when attempting to bear weight on it.

If left untreated, the rubbing of the torn meniscus on the cartilage of the knee can damage the knee joint. When this happens, the knee also becomes swollen, stiff, and tight.

The Procedure

The procedure for a partial meniscectomy is minimally invasive and gets performed under local or regional anesthesia.

First, the surgeon will make two to five small incisions in the knee. Through these incisions, an arthroscope and other necessary surgical tools will be inserted. From here, the surgeon will evaluate the damaged cartilage and the ligaments of the knee to confirm what needs to be removed.

The torn parts of the meniscus will be removed, with careful attention paid to preserving as much of the healthy tissue as possible. Then, the edges of the area are shaved to make the meniscus smooth and help your knee operate correctly. The rest of the knee joint will also be evaluated for any additional damage. 

Now, the instruments can be removed and the incisions can be closed with sutures. 

After the Procedure

This procedure decreases the risk of knee damage in the long run and has a short recovery period. Most patients of a partial meniscectomy can bear weight on the leg one or two days after surgery. Full activity is typically possible within 2 to 4 weeks. However, your specific timetable for returning to your previous activity level will depend on the extent of your surgery and your success in rehab.

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