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Discussing the evolution and future of meniscus repair

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Meniscus repair procedures continue to evolve. That’s a good thing for patients, say two specialists with Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic in Manitowoc.

Drs. Carl A. DiRaimondo and Jon Henry, both orthopedic surgeons, shared their insights surrounding the evolution of meniscus repair and treatments for knee pain and related conditions during a recent Facebook livestream. They also shared thoughts on the future of meniscus repair.

The meniscus is a C-shaped cushion of cartilage in the knee that acts as a shock absorber. It fills the space between the knee bones, specifically the femur and tibia.

“Just like the shock absorbers in our cars, it bears the brunt of any weight-bearing stress with our daily activities … and therefore, it can be vulnerable to injury,” Henry says.

Meniscus injuries are typically the result of a quick twist to the knee. With proper diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, people often return to their pre-injury activities, the doctors say.

Left unrepaired, a meniscus injury can linger for years, causing pain and limited mobility while also increasing the risk of further injury and permanent knee damage.

Meniscus repair surgery is no longer the arduous procedure it once was, Henry says.

“We try to leave as much of the healthy meniscus as possible,” he says. “Way back when someone had a symptomatic meniscal tear, they’d have an open surgery and the entire meniscus would be removed. The thought was that the meniscus was kind of like an appendix, just an unnecessary piece of tissue.”

In the short term, that approach worked, DiRaimondo says. In the long term it resulted in complications for patients, including early onset arthritis.

“We’ve come a long way, where there’s a great percentage (of patients) that I can offer (meniscal) repair and feel confident I’m offering the right procedure than maybe there was 10 to 15 years ago,” DiRaimondo says.

“Knee pain, swelling and mechanical symptoms, you don’t have to live with them,” he says. “Most times if it’s a meniscus tear, it’s something that can be dealt with through a less invasive arthroscopic procedure that restores quality of life … it’s worth it.”

Henry agreed.

“Most patients will do well and get their quality of life back in a relatively quick fashion,” he says.

For more information on meniscus repair and other knee conditions and treatments, please contact the specialists at Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic in Manitowoc.

Published: Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Author: Femi Cole