To the Center of the Meniscus--And BeyondIt is well known now that the cartilage in the knee called the meniscus is very important to knee function. When torn or damaged, it is best to repair (instead of remove) the meniscus whenever possible. This is even more so for people under 20 years of age. Taking the meniscus out in a young athlete leaves the surfaces of the knee joint unprotected for many more years than in older adults.
Doctors are looking for ways to save the inner (central) part of the meniscus. This is an area where there is no blood supply to help with the healing process. Using animals and then humans, studies are being done to find ways to repair the meniscus and aid healing.
Dr. Frank Noyes from the Cincinnati Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center and his co-workers are studying this problem in a group of young athletes. Meniscal repairs in 71 knees of patients under 20 years old were followed for over four years. A special method of repairing the inner part of the meniscus was tried.
The results were good with 75 percent success. Only one in four patients (25 percent) had return of symptoms and a second operation. Some of these cases occurred because of a reinjury during sports activity. Before this study, the central meniscus would typically have been removed. With this new operation, surgeons are beginning to repair meniscal tears in young, active patients. This will help save knee function for many years to come.
Frank R. Noyes, MD, and Sue D. Barber-Westin. Arthroscopic Repair of Meniscal Tears Extending into the Avascular Zone in Patients Younger Than Twenty Years of Age. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. July/August 2002. Vol. 30. No. 4. Pp. 589-600.
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