Is it necessary for a patient with a meniscus tear to undergo surgery to repair it right away? Or can he wait several months before the surgeon repairs it? My latest Ask Dr. Geier column addresses a question about surgery for one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries – timing of meniscus repair.
Is there a chance to repair a meniscus tear in a 43 year old during knee reconstruction 4 months after injury? My understanding is that the tear needs to be repaired within 2 weeks of injury.
Surgery to repair a meniscus tear
When a surgeon performs meniscal repair surgery, he essentially uses sutures and/or anchors to sew the edges of the tear back together. This procedure differs from the much more common partial meniscectomy, where the surgeon basically trims out the torn portion of meniscus.
The main factors that a surgeon uses to determine if a meniscus tear can be repaired or must be trimmed out are the tear’s location and its orientation. Typically only tears close to the blood supply of the meniscus – toward the capsule and away from the free edge – have the necessary blood supply to help repair heal. Vertical tears are among the only types of tears that sutures can effectively hold together as well.
Ask Dr. Geier – Recovery from meniscus repair
Ask Dr. Geier: Return to activity after meniscus surgery
Timing of meniscus repair surgery
Frequently surgeons perform meniscal repair surgeries within a few weeks of a patient’s injury. One, these tears often occur concurrently with ACL tears, so surgeons perform meniscal repair at the same time as the ACL reconstruction. Second, a younger patient might have a bucket-handle tear that blocks knee motion. Early surgery to get the meniscus back in place and sew it together is necessary.
In theory at least, surgeons often perform meniscal repairs earlier to prevent further damage. With continued impact through the knee, a patient could propagate the tear further or damage it in such a way that the surgeon can no longer repair it. Having said that, if a surgeon looks in the knee arthroscopically and finds a tear in a location with good blood supply and finds a tear pattern amenable to repair, he will usually try to repair it, even months out from injury.
Recommended Products and Resources
Click here to go to Dr. David Geier’s Amazon Influencer store!
Due to a large number of questions I have received over the years asking about products for health, injuries, performance, and other areas of sports, exercise, work and life, I have created an Amazon Influencer page. While this information and these products are not intended to treat any specific injury or illness you have, they are products I use personally, have used or have tried, or I have recommended to others. THE SITE MAY OFFER HEALTH, FITNESS, NUTRITIONAL AND OTHER SUCH INFORMATION, BUT SUCH INFORMATION IS DESIGNED FOR EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THE CONTENT DOES NOT AND IS NOT INTENDED TO CONVEY MEDICAL ADVICE AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE. YOU SHOULD NOT RELY ON THIS INFORMATION AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR, NOR DOES IT REPLACE, PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS, OR TREATMENT. THE SITE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ACTIONS OR INACTION ON A USER’S PART BASED ON THE INFORMATION THAT IS PRESENTED ON THE SITE. Please note that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.