Meniscus

The menisci enable the complex rotation, rolling and sliding movements of the biggest joint in the human body. They can become bruised in movements involving rotation of the thigh with a fixed lower leg, such as in a skiing accident. The severity of injury can range from slight pressure damage to a complete tear through the entire meniscus. The inner meniscus is more frequently affected than the outer meniscus. The patient feels pronounced pain in the knee at the time of the accident. The injury can cause blocking of normal motion of the joint, as well as problems with bending and stretching. The knee swells rapidly due to joint effusion, and often the sporting activity cannot be continued.

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The knee should be immobilised and cooled at the scene of the accident. A medical examination is essential, and x-ray images should be obtained to exclude injury to the bone. If the results of the examination are unclear, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be helpful, but individuals often opt directly for arthroscopy of the knee joint. This investigation requires either a regional or general anaesthetic. Through two to three small punctures, the entire joint can be examined from the inside using a video camera. Torn meniscal cartilage can be removed and some longitudinal tearing of the meniscus can be repaired with sutures. Complete healing of a meniscal repair is only possible if the ligaments are stable, and the recovery period is longer.

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Further treatment depends on the extent of the accompanying damage to the articular cartilage and any injuries to the ligaments. If only the meniscus is injured, the individual will soon be able to play sport again. We recommend avoiding sudden twisting and stopping movements for three weeks. If there is also cartilage damage, the individual can expect discomfort and swelling for six to eight weeks. If only part of the meniscus is removed (as little as possible, as much as necessary), long-term outcomes are good. However, if the meniscus needs to be completely removed, osteoarthritis can be expected to develop after a period of 10 to 15 years.

Trials are therefore under way to create an artificial meniscus from bovine collagen. This involves using the regenerative capacity of the body to fill the implanted scaffold with the body’s own tissue, while the collagen that is used slowly dissolves. However, this method is still at the clinical-trial stage.

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Centre for Joint and Sport Surgery
Pyramid Clinic
Bellerivestrasse 34
CH-8034 Zürich

+41 44 388 16 16
+41 44 388 16 00

zgs@pyramide.ch


Contact us by phone from:
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