The meniscus is the tough rubbery structure that separates the medial and lateral surfaces of the knee joint. The function of the meniscus is to assist function, improve stability and protect the cartilage from stresses that prematurely cause wear.
Menisci are vulnerable to injury from sporting injuries or wear and tear. Because they do not have a good blood supply, healing of tears is difficult to achieve and in most instances only in very specific circumstances can tears be repaired. This is only possible if the tear is very close to the peripheral margin where the blood supply is preserved.
A torn meniscus may not necessarily be very painful. Because they take different forms, symptoms vary from mild pain and occasionally to more severe pain. There may be mechanical disturbance which restricts movement and creates swelling in the knee.
Tears of the meniscus are diagnosed by clinical examination and confirmed with an MRI scan. Meniscus injuries are not normally seen on a plain x-ray of the knee.
When the tear is in the substance of the meniscus it is treated by arthroscopic partial meniscectomy. This is a “keyhole” operation designed to remove only the damaged part of the meniscus.