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Shaving of Cartilage (Menisectomy)

Meniscectomy is a procedure to remove the torn portion of the meniscus. This procedure is far more commonly performed than a meniscus repair. Most meniscus tears cannot be treated by a repair for a number of reasons. Often the tear is in an avascular region of the meniscus and will not heal even if repaired. Some tears are frayed and cannot be sutured together. In these cases, the meniscectomy is done to remove the damaged portion of meniscus. The meniscectomy has a faster recovery, but it can lead to trouble years down the road because of the absence of the normal meniscus.

With a meniscus tear (torn cartilage) in your knee, the shock absorbing capacity of the joint is threatened. Because of this, there is an increased risk of developing damage to the articular cartilage surface of the knee joint bones; this is commonly referred to as knee arthritis. Loss of the meniscus places more of a burden on the cartilage surfaces of the joint and they are more likely to develop knee arthritis. Therefore, any lifestyle changes to decrease your risk of developing arthritis can improve the prognosis after having sustained a meniscus tear. For example, weight loss, low-impact exercise, and prevention of further trauma to the joint will all improve the long-term prognosis.

If a meniscus repair is possible, the long-term prognosis, especially in younger patients, is improved due to restoration of the normal knee anatomy. However, as mentioned previously, a meniscus repair may not be possible in many patients with torn cartilage.


A partial meniscectomy is a surgical procedure that is performed to remove a piece of torn cartilage in Arthroscopic Menisectomythe knee joint. Arthroscopic surgery is often recommended if the torn meniscus is becoming bothersome to the patient. Arthroscopic surgery is a procedure that is used to look inside a joint. Through one small incision (about 1 centimeter) a small camera, about the size of a pencil, is inserted into the joint. Then using one or more other small incisions, your surgeon places other instruments inside the knee to remove the torn cartilage.

Incisions for arthroscopy are quite small, usually about 1 centimeter each. The incisions are closed with one suture that is either outside or underneath the skin. A bandage is placed over the arthroscopic incisions for at least a day or two to keep the incisions sterile./p>

The torn meniscus can be removed using a number of different instruments, including small shavers and scissors. The arthroscope will also allow your surgeon to inspect the rest of the knee joint looking for signs of arthritis, loose pieces of cartilage in the knee, the ligaments of the knee and other problems inside the joint. There is usually minimal pain associated with arthroscopic knee surgery. An anesthesiologist will be with you for the entire procedure to ensure you are comfortable. Following the procedure you will be given instructions on what type of pain medicine to take in you do experience discomfort. Icing the area is helpful for the first few days after surgery, as is keeping the knee elevated.

For most arthroscopic knee procedures, crutches are given only for comfort. Once you feel steady on your feet, you can get rid of the crutches. However, there are some procedures, such as ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair, that may require longer use of crutches. Always check with your doctor before discontinuing crutch use.

There are several options, all of which can work for most arthroscopic procedures. These include:

General anesthesia allows you to sleep through the procedure. An anesthesiologist monitors your breathing and vital signs throughout the surgery, and you are awakened once the procedure is completed.

These include epidural and spinal anesthesia. These options are acceptable for most types of knee arthroscopy. They allow patients to remain awake during the procedure.

Local anesthesia is an option for some types of knee arthroscopy. The surgery is usually done with light sedation, and the patient may require general anesthesia if the procedure becomes uncomfortable.


Patients who are undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery for treatment of a cartilage tear can usually return to normal activities quite quickly. Most patients take a few days or a long weekend off work. If the meniscus is removed (partial meniscectomy) then there are usually few activity restrictions. Patients can walk and move normally, so long as they don't have pain. It depends on your comfort level. For most meniscectomies, patients can resume their activities as tolerated. For most patients, this means returning to normal walking within a few days to a week, returning to jogging within a month, and returning to sports within 4-8 weeks. Some patients take longer, others are quicker.


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