Meniscus Repair or Meniscectomy? Comparison of Long Term Outcomes

image There is an interesting study about to come out in an upcoming article in the American Journal of Sports Medicine comparing the outcomes of arthroscopic meniscus repair and partial meniscectomy.

The authors compared 42 patients undergoing meniscal repair to 39 patients undergoing partial meniscectomy at a mean of 8.8 years after surgery.  The authors specifically evaluated osteoarthritic progress, loss of knee function, and influence on sports activities.  The authors did a good job controlling the study by excluding knees with instability and only including medial meniscus tears.  However, the study was no completely randomized, the decision to perform a repair versus meniscectomy was based on the type of meniscus tear present.

Arthroscopic Meniscus Repair Surgery Video

There are some pretty neat videos on YouTube of meniscus repairs, thought this would be a good place and time to include one here:


Results of the study were interesting:

  • 81% of patients having a meniscus repair did not show any significant osteoarthritis at the time of follow up, while 60% of meniscectomy patients did show osteoarthritic changes.
  • Functional scores showed no difference between the two procedures, however 94% of meniscal repair patients returned to their previous level of sport activity compared to only 44% of the meniscectomy group.
  • There was a significant drop in sport activity in the meniscectomy group only.

Clinical Implications

Personally, I wasn’t very surprised at the large difference between groups.  It is obvious that the mensical repair procedures are fair superior to partial meniscectomy.  It is well established that preserving as much as the meniscus as possible will yield greater results over time.  The menisci play a very important role in shock absorption and the normal biomechanics of the knee.

There are many pros and cons to both procedures, and the postoperative recovering is certainly longer following meniscal repair, however the results of this study certainly show that pros should outweigh the cons.  It should be noted that sometimes a repair is not always feasible and meniscal damage of this nature will likely result in osteoarthritic changes over time, potentially explaining the results of this study.

What I take away from this study is more educational that clinical.  I am not sure that there is anything we can do differently to enhance outcomes in meniscectomy patients based on this study, but the results do underscore the dramatic importance of the meniscus on knee function.

Imagine that it was fairly common to perform a COMPLETE meniscectomy only a few decades ago!

3 replies
  1. Trevor Winnegge DPT,MS,OCS,CSCS
    Trevor Winnegge DPT,MS,OCS,CSCS says:

    44% in menisectomy group return to sport is a surprisingly low number. In an age where athletes have a knee scope and return to sports within a month like it was nothing, that number just seems really low to me. I wonder the level of "athlete". Is it a competitive high school or college kid or a weekend warrior whose wife tells him he can not play basketball on weekends with friends anymore. I am definitely interested in the demographics of this study. Is that 44% category people who returned and were still playing 8.8 years later? Or just return at some point. As you can see I am a bit shocked to see that number soooo low. Knew it would be less that repair group but 50% less??????

  2. Garrett
    Garrett says:

    "Imagine that it was fairly common to perform a COMPLETE meniscectomy only a few decades ago!" ….. speaking of that, while during my undergraduate years at Northeastern learning lower extremity, there was discussion based on a European soccer club who had a trend of meniscus tear and thought of this brilliant idea to decrease this injury trend……..COMPLETE MENISCECTOMY in healthy patient!!

    Talk about shock absorption and the normal biomechanics of the knee the meniscus serves as the convex/concave relationship. Turns out, the healthy soccer player could no longer play anymore………shaking my head (smh)

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