A meniscectomy is commonly used to treat a torn meniscus in the knee. However, some experts in the field believe it offers little in the way of benefits for patients. Now, a new study carried out by Italian researchers, has evaluated the long-term outcomes of the procedure.
Here, we’ll look at what the study found and whether or not a meniscectomy is a beneficial treatment for patients suffering with a torn meniscus.
Understanding the study
The retrospective study included 289 patients aged 50 to 70 who had undergone an arthroscopic meniscectomy after being diagnosed with a degenerative meniscal tear.
Data was collected regarding patient age, sex, knee alignment and osteoarthritis. A follow up was provided 20 years after the procedure. It revealed that older age, being female, lateral meniscectomy and advanced chondral lesion were increased risk factors for requiring total knee replacement surgery after an arthroscopy meniscectomy.
A total of 15.7% patients went on to require a total knee replacement after a meniscectomy procedure. The time between surgeries was typically seven years. So, while an arthroscopic meniscectomy does present a risk of the need for a total knee replacement later on, in most patients it does seem to prove to be an effective option.
What is a meniscectomy?
A meniscectomy is a surgical procedure which removes either the entire, or part of the meniscus.
The meniscus is cartilage within the knee, which absorbs shock as well as lubricates, protects and supports the bones of the joint. Each knee contains two menisci, one on the inner and one on the outer section of the joint. Like any part of the body, these can become damaged over time, with meniscus tears proving particularly common.
In most cases, a partial meniscectomy is carried out in order to try and preserve as much of the cartilage as possible. Studies have shown that when a total replacement surgery is carried out, it increases the risk of the patient developing arthritis in 10 years’ time.
A meniscectomy aims to repair a moderate to large meniscus tear, typically situated on the outer area of the joint. There are different types of tears you can experience and not all of them require a surgical approach.
Other meniscus treatment options
Small meniscus tears don’t necessarily need treatment. They often heal by themselves after plenty of rest at home. If you have a large tear which crosses most of the meniscus, surgery may also prove to be ineffective.
Non-operative treatments include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and strengthening exercises. If surgery is required, an alternative to a meniscectomy is a meniscus repair. The rehab process will be a little more extensive for a repair surgery than a meniscectomy. This is because the torn muscle still needs to heal, whereas with a meniscectomy it is removed.
Before selecting any treatment for a torn meniscus, it is important to talk through your options with a qualified surgeon. They will be able to recommend the best treatment based upon your diagnosis.