Also known as meniscal repair, meniscus repair is a type of orthopedic surgery that repairs cartilage tears in the knee. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage made up of two separate disks; one called the medial meniscus and the other the lateral meniscus. The meniscus cartilage acts like a shock absorber that distributes weight evenly across the knee joint. Tears to the meniscus or cartilage often occur from twisting movements when the knee goes one way and the foot goes the other, such as occurs in skiing, tennis, or many contact sports.
Common Meniscus Repair Treatments
For many individuals, cold or hot compresses, compression bandages, and physical therapy may help a torn meniscus heal. However, in some cases, surgery is needed to repair a damaged or torn meniscus, and treatment for meniscal tears depends on the severity of the injury. Surgical repair of the meniscus is often utilized through arthroscopic surgery.
In some cases where blood supply is damaged or fails to heal, the torn section of the meniscus may be removed through arthroscopic surgery. This procedure utilizes an arthroscope, or a small camera about the diameter of a pencil inserted through a small incision in the knee joint. The camera displays the interior portion of the knee joint and allows accessed by additional endoscopic tools that are then manipulated by a surgeon watching a monitor to remove or fix the torn cartilage in a minimally invasive surgical technique. In some cases, a torn meniscus can be repaired utilizing traditional sutures or absorbable plastic staples.
A meniscal transplant may also be performed. Without the meniscus or cartilage to cushion the knee joint, persistent pain and bone friction will result. In cases where the meniscus cannot be repaired, complete removal and replacement may be required. In such situations, a meniscal transplant is performed, mostly in individuals who are under 55 and physically active.
Donor tissue for a meniscal transplant comes from human donors or cadavers or tissue banks, from individuals who have donated their bodies or organs to medical research or organ donor associations.
Who Benefits from Meniscus Repair?
Anyone suffering the pain, joint inflammation and immobility caused by a torn or injured meniscus may benefit from meniscus repair procedures. While most tears are the result of sports injuries, the aging process may also cause degeneration and wear and tear on the cartilage. In cases of the elderly, a surgeon will determine which type of treatment will provide greater range of motion, mobility and pain relief.
How Much does Meniscus Repair Cost?
The cost of repair for a torn or damaged meniscus naturally depends on the severity of the injury, the percentage of the cartilage damaged, and the treatment or procedure utilized to treat it. In the United States, arthroscopic meniscal repair costs an average of $9,000, though such surgeries may go as high as $30,000, depending on surgical approach, geographical location, and other factors including the need for a meniscus transplant, hospitalization and surgeon's fees.
Traveling to international destinations such as India, may save tens of thousands of dollars. Meniscus arthroscopy repair in India cost an average between $3,000 and $7,000, and includes hospitalization costs.
Who Performs Meniscus Repair Surgeries?
Orthopedic surgeons perform all types of orthopedic surgical procedures including knee surgeries. Potential patients should check to make sure their physician is certified with State, Provincial, or National Board of Orthopedic surgeon organizations or associations in their country of origin. Orthopedic surgeons must pass board certification following oral and written examinations in their native or adoptive countries of origin. In the United States, this is the American Orthopedic Association, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons or the American Board of Medical Specialties.