Your Treatment Options for a Meniscus Tear

Your Treatment Options for a Meniscus Tear

We’ve discovered a meniscus tear in one of your knees and you’re wondering about the path forward to pain-free and stable movement. While it’s impossible to say here which approach would be best for your torn meniscus, Dr. Timothy Wilson and our team thought it might be helpful to outline some of the possible options.

The most common types of meniscus tears

While there are any number of ways in which you can damage the wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage in your knees called menisci, there are, generally, six types of meniscus tears:

  1. Incomplete tears inside your meniscus
  2. Radial tears, which start on the outer edge and travels inward
  3. Horizontal tear, which is located inside your meniscus
  4. Flap tear, which, per its name, leaves a flap of tissue
  5. Complex tear, which is a combination of patterns
  6. Bucket-handle tear, a large horizontal tear inside your meniscus

No matter the tear, its location is one of the first deciding factors in whether or not you may need surgical repair of your tissue. Each of your four menisci (you have two in each knee) features a “red” zone and a “white” zone, which refers to whether or not the tissue has a good supply of blood. 

If you’ve incurred a minor tear in the red zone, you may be able to avoid surgery since the tissue has ample resources to heal and repair itself. If, like most tears, it involves the white zone, surgery is likely the only way we can repair the tissue.

Types of meniscus repairs

Once Dr. Wilson evaluates the location, extent, and type of tear, he recommends your best option for regaining pain-free movement and stability in your knee.

In general, there are three approaches to surgical repair, which include:


During this procedure, Dr. Wilson removes your meniscus entirely or trims away the damaged tissue. For example, if you have a flap tear, Dr. Wilson can arthroscopically remove the flap, which should improve your function.

More often than not, Dr. Wilson doesn’t remove your meniscus in its entirety, but debrides (trims away) the affected tissue.

Meniscus repair

If you have a tear that Dr. Wilson can repair using sutures, this is a good approach for meniscus repairs. For example, if you have a radial or horizontal tear, Dr. Wilson can arthroscopically suture the pieces together to re-establish stability and integrity within the tissue.

Meniscus reconstruction

If there’s significant damage in your meniscus, Dr. Wilson may turn to reconstructive techniques to repair the tissue, including meniscus scaffolds or meniscal allograft transplantation. The scaffolds are biodegradable devices that Dr. Wilson uses to fill in damaged areas of tissue while allografts are donor tissues.

Choosing the best repair for your meniscus tear

As we mentioned, it’s impossible for us to say here which type of repair may benefit you most. After a thorough evaluation of your tear, your goals, and your lifestyle, Dr. Wilson can present your options, ensuring that you understand each completely.

To learn more about your options for repairing your meniscus tear, contact our office in Lexington, Kentucky.

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