“Just thought I would let you know that I had a very successful weeks skiing in Verbier and got back last weekend. Weather fantastic and knee held up very well. Many, many thanks.”
Meniscus repair surgery
Meniscus repair surgery
Sometimes the meniscus can be repaired using small sutures (stitches) to hold the torn section together. However, menisci do not heal very well, due to poor blood supply, so not all tears can be repaired.
Partial meniscectomy is where the damaged part of the meniscus is removed during arthroscopic surgery.
Are there any risks from this type of surgery?
Complications following meniscal surgery are rare. However, they can include:
The chance of infection is less than 1% and can usually be treated effectively with antibiotics. Usually only the skin is affected, but if bacteria get into the knee itself then it may be necessary to have a further arthroscopy to wash the knee out with saline solution and give stronger antibiotics via a drip.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
The risk of this is less than 1% and is unusual if you move around as much as possible after surgery. Symptoms include pain, swelling, warmth and redness of the calf. Less commonly, a DVT can also present in the thigh area.
A small amount of swelling is very common after meniscal surgery, often just above the kneecap or around the incision sites. If the swelling becomes painful, you should contact the team for advice.
Most people experience some stiffness in the joint after an operation, but this should improve with exercise and physiotherapy.
Everyone is different, so healing and post-operative programmes vary from person to person. However, the follow-up appointments below are typical:
Two weeks: wound check and removal of stitches
Six weeks: post-operative check up
If there are any complications with your rehabilitation your physiotherapist may refer you back to your consultant for a further review and will liaise directly with the consultant about any issues
Getting back to normal
Following the operation you will have a small dressing around your knee.
You will be allowed up once you have recovered from the anaesthetic.
If you have had a partial meniscectomy you will be allowed to fully weight-bear as pain allows straight away.
Following meniscal repair you may not be able to fully weight-bear straight away.
In some instances you may need to wear a brace to restrict movement in your knee while it heals.
You may need to have crutches to help you to walk.
Your knee may be swollen and bruised so you should keep your leg elevated (raised) when you are not walking or exercising.
A physiotherapist will give you some simple exercises to help with your recovery.
When can I return to work?
This depends on the type of work you do and how quickly you recover. As a general guide, if your job involves sitting down for most of the time, you should be able to return to work a few days after surgery. If it involves being on your feet for longer periods of time, but does not require manual duties such as heavy lifting and kneeling, you may return to work within two to three weeks.
Jobs that require a greater degree of manual work and physical demand, for example lifting and running, may require four to six weeks or more following partial meniscectomy and up to three months or more following meniscal repair.
When can I return to sport?
People recover at different rates for many reasons so returning to sport will be based on how ready you are both physically and psychologically, rather than on a set timeframe.
Following a partial meniscectomy you may be able to return to road cycling at two to four weeks and jogging or light individual sports, for example non-competitive golf, at four to six weeks. These timeframes are doubled following meniscal repair.
The time it takes to return to high performance/contact sports, for example rugby, football and skiing following partial meniscectomy will be six to eight weeks or more. Again, this timeframe will be doubled for meniscal repair.
Am I more likely to get osteoarthritis after meniscal surgery?
One of the important roles of the menisci is to spread your body weight over as big an area of your knee joint lining as possible. If the menisci are injured and can no longer do this properly, then areas of your joint lining are put under more load. Sometimes the lining is put under too much load and can slowly deteriorate over time eventually leading to loss of the lining of the knee. This is called osteoarthritis (OA).
The risk of developing OA in later life may increase if you have a meniscal injury while you are young or if the injury means a large amount of meniscus is lost. Wherever possible, your surgeon will try to preserve as much meniscal tissue as possible to minimise this risk.