Arthroscopic meniscectomy is the most commonly performed of all arthroscopic operations. During the surgery, a telescope is introduced into the knee which illuminates the knee joint cavity whilst filling it with fluid.
This provides high-quality images of the interior of the knee joint. The camera is usually introduced sequentially through three small wounds which are called arthroscopy portals, two made below the kneecap on either side of the patella tendon and a third above and outside the kneecap (this third wound is usually used to inspect the kneecap joint).
The shock-absorbing pads of gristle called the menisci, cup the knuckles of the joint supporting them as they slide and rotate upon each other. Tears of these meniscal cartilages are colloquially known as "torn cartilage".
A severe injury can tear a cartilage from its root or bed. These types of injuries are found most often in children, adolescents, young adults, and sometimes they can be repaired with fine stitches.
More usually, cartilages fail through areas of weakness that have developed within. This type of cartilage tear is most common in people in their middle age.
Symptoms can develop gradually or insidiously over a long period of time occasionally they are the result of a twisting or stumbling injury. The presence of a meniscal tear is usually confirmed by imaging and often an MRI scan will be required.
Arthroscopic meniscectomy normally involves removal of the torn piece of cartilage only, sparing as much normal cartilage as possible and contouring the cut edge to ensure that the knee runs smoothly after the surgery.
Arthroscopy is not a particularly painful procedure all patients are given painkillers to take home and most patients use these painkillers on the first day or two following the surgery. Thereafter, they are not usually required.
Following the surgery, the knee is filled with local anesthesia and a padded bandage is then applied. Because the anesthesia makes the knee a little clumsy during the first few hours following the surgery, the patient is asked to use crutches when he is discharged from the hospital, but the patient may walk without these as soon as he feels better, unless he has specifically been asked to continue using them by the surgeon.