Question - Meniscus Surgery

by Matt

I recently had an MRI for a torn meniscus. The Dr., a respected sports orthropedist, said the meniscus was torn. He also said I had "beautiful coverage" over the joint, refering to my cartalage on my bones". He wants to "clean it up", refering to a partial removal of the meniscus.

I have pain only after an event such as catching my foot on something or walking on very uneven ground. I can put up with the rare pain and clicking of the joint even though it is bothersome.

My concern is from what I have read on the web is that this procedure will lead to a rapid degeneration of my bone cartilage. I am afraid of this, as my Dad had double knee replacement from osteoarthritis as a farmer.

My question is, am I better off to put this off or will the tear that enters my joint do more damage than the 350% increase in bone to bone contact that I read a partial removal of the meniscus will cause?

I am 45 years old 5'7 154 lbs active weightlifter; I also bikeride. I am however bowleged. At this point I do not have constant pain and I do not want it, even if I have to reduce my activities. Should I have the surgery?

Thanks much,


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May 09, 2008
A difficult decision...
by: Bart - SII

This can be a difficult decision to make. You obviously have done your research regarding the effects of a partial meniscectomy. It is true that removing part of the meniscus can lead to increased stress on the articular surfaces of the knee.

If you do not do anything to treat your current tear, you may do very well with regards to pain and problems in your knee. One thing to consider is whether or not that tear could become larger in time, given your activity levels. This is very possible.

The other thing to consider is that your physician has told you that your articular cartilage looks very good. This means that at your current age, you do not have any signs of osetoarthritis. A partial meniscectomy does increase the chances for degeneration, however, this occurs over a long period of someone who has a meniscectomy at age 20 will likely have joint changes in their 40's or 50's. You could very well be into your late 60's before you notice any significant arthritis.

It comes down to how bothersome the current state of your knee is, and what kind of activities you would like to continue with.

I would highly recommend talking about all of these things with your surgeon. They are the best source for answers, and can give you a good idea of the outcomes either way. And if you are unsure about the information they give you, it is always ok to seek a second opinion.

Hope this helps - comment back if you have other questions.

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