Meniscectomy for Meniscus Tear

A torn meniscus may not heal on its own as there is a limited blood supply to that area. In this case, your GP may recommend a meniscectomy.

What is a Meniscus Tear

Your meniscus is a layer of cartilage in your knee joint that acts like a shock absorber between the bones in your upper and lower knee. It allows your knee joint to move smoothly and helps keep it stable.

A torn meniscus may not heal on its own as there is a limited blood supply to that area.

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Limited knee function

If conservative treatment for your meniscus tear is not successful, your consultant may recommend a meniscectomy.

What happens during a meniscectomy?

A meniscectomy is usually performed arthroscopically under general or local anaesthetic. Your surgeon will make small incisions in your knee and access the meniscus using special surgical tools and a tiny camera. They will assess any damage, clean out the area and repair any tears. Your surgical wounds will be closed using stitches or staples.

Healthcare Abroad have a team of physiotherapists that can help you regain mobility of your knee join after the surgery.

A meniscectomy is usually performed as a day case meaning you can go home the day of your operation. You will not be able to drive however as you know we provide transport to and from the hospital including physiotherapy appointments.

Types of meniscectomy surgeries include:

  • Partial meniscectomy: removes a small piece of the torn meniscus.
  • Total meniscectomy: removes the entire meniscus.

How to Prepare

You’ll have an appointment to meet with the surgeon and ask any questions before the procedure. This will give you a chance to find out more about the risks and benefits specific to your condition.

Your surgeon will talk to you about the type of anaesthesia you’ll need, whether it’s general or local anaesthetic. They’ll also let you know what to expect on the day of surgery and how you can prepare for the recovery phase.

Your healthcare provider may give you a prescription for pain medicine in advance of your procedure so you can have it filled and on-hand to use after you are discharged. You may be referred to a physical therapist before the surgery to get fitted for crutches and instructed on how to use them.

Going Home After a Meniscectomy

You may need to use crutches in the first few days following your surgery. Continue to take any pain relief medication as prescribed.

Use ice on your knee to help control swelling and pain. Wrap any ice pack with a tea towel and apply several times a day for 10-20 minutes.

If your incisions are dry you can remove your dressing after two days. Keep the area clean and dry until your follow-up visit. Use a water proof dressing when showering.

Continue doing your exercises as prescribed. You should avoid any strenuous activity until released to do so by your consultant.

Be sure and discuss any return to work with your consultant.

As with any procedure there can be complications including:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis)
  • Further tears

Recovery

Your recovery time may vary depending on the extent of your procedure, your age, and overall health. You may want to arrange for someone to come with you for your surgery to help with things around your accommodation during your recovery phase.

If you are travelling alone Healthcare Abroad have staff that will do their best to look after you while you are recovering.

Some people are able to go back to work and drive after one week. You may be able to resume normal activity and exercise after one month, or once your strength and range of motion are restored. Check with your surgeon to find out when you can resume different activities and whether you need to make any modifications to protect your knee.

Your surgeon may suggest exercises that you can do to help you get back to normal quickly. These can help you improve control of your leg muscles and improve your knee range of motion. You may be able to do them at home, we suggest that you do some physiotherapy as this can also be reimbursed by the HSE through the Cross border directive. You’ll likely need a follow-up appointment to two weeks after the surgery.

Healing

You may have some pain and swelling for about a week after surgery. For the first two days after surgery, your surgeon may suggest putting ice on your knee for 20 minutes at a time several times a day to help reduce pain and swelling. You can help decrease swelling while resting by putting two or three pillows under your knee while lying flat on your back.

Your surgeon will let you know when it’s safe to bathe or shower. They may advise covering your knee with plastic to keep your incisions from getting wet and reduce your risk of infection.

Use crutches to help keep stress off your knee while it’s healing. Your physical therapist will work with you to determine when you can stop using them. Usually, this can happen when you are able to comfortably put your full weight on your surgical leg.

Pain medications, may be prescribed for the first 48 hours, although they are typically not needed after this procedure. These medications can be safe if used properly and for a short amount of time. Follow your surgeon’s instructions to avoid misuse of opioids, which can lead to overdose, addiction, or death.

Your surgeon may recommend using over-the-counter pain medication thereafter. Most patients are able to stop taking pain relief drugs after the first week.