A unilateral meniscectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing the damaged (or torn) meniscus tissue either completely, or partially. This is done in order to bring relief from the pain as well as to allow the joint to regain the lost range of movement.
A meniscus tear is a common form of injury that is seen occurring in the knee joint. The size, pattern and the location of the tear in the meniscus will help the orthopedic surgeon to determine the best form of treatment for your individual case. The surgeon may also take into consideration you age, overall health status, daily activity level, any other underlying medical condition, etc to decide on the course of treatment for you.
Need for Unilateral Meniscectomy
The surgeon will take into consideration several related factors such as the location, size, pattern and the stability level of the tear in the meniscus before suggesting unilateral meniscectomy for correcting the condition being caused by it.
In case the meniscus tear causes swelling or becomes painful, it is usually a sign that the extent of the damage to the meniscus tissue will require the removal of its damaged part and the outer edges surgically contoured in order to make the remaining meniscus smooth. The aim of the surgeon will be to retain as much of the meniscus tissue as possible in order to avoid long-term degeneration of your knee joint.
Candidate for Unilateral Meniscectomy
You are considered for unilateral meniscectomy when:
- You have a medium to large sized tear at the outer portion of the meniscus that requires surgical treatment
- Your meniscus tear spreads from the outer (red zone) part of the meniscus to the inner (2/3rd) of the meniscus
Unilateral Meniscectomy procedure
This surgery to remove the damaged meniscus is nowadays performed mostly, using minimally invasive surgical method known as ‘arthroscopic surgery’. This method of minimally invasive surgery requires the use of small and thin flexible tubes (arthroscope) that is initially fitted with a light-source and a video camera, while the other tubes are connected to special miniaturized surgical instruments.
The surgery requires administering general anesthesia to avoid discomfort and pain to you during the procedure. The surgeon will make a few (3-4) very small (keyhole) incisions around the affected knee joint. The surgeon inserts the arthroscope attached with the video camera into the knee joint using the incision and gets a better and detailed view of the affected region on the video monitor.
The surgeon next uses the set of small surgical instruments attached to the other surgical tubes to remove the damaged portion of the meniscus, or to remove it completely if required. The surgeon will ensure that no debris from the damaged meniscus tissue is left in the operated site. After the meniscus is removed the surgeon will use very fine sutures to stitch the incisions closed.
Risks associated with Unilateral Meniscectomy
Meniscectomy is mostly like any other surgery although there are very few and rare risks that may develop in a few cases, such as nerve damage due to the surgical procedure. Excessive meniscus removal may lead to insufficient strength in the knee joint to bear the body’s weight and may lead to faster degeneration of the knee joint.
There is also a risk of infection and bleeding due to the surgery, however the surgeon will take every possible precaution to avoid these risks from arising.