• Meniscectomy

    To see an animated version of this procedure, click Procedure In Motion .


    Meniscus is cartilage in the knee joint. It helps to stabilize and cushion the knee. A meniscectomy is the removal of all or part of the meniscus.
    Knee Arthroscopy
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Reasons for Procedure

    A meniscectomy is done when the cartilage is damaged. Damaged cartilage can cause pain or give you problems with knee motion.

    Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
    • Infection
    • Excess bleeding
    • Swelling
    • Blood clots
    • Chronic weakness in knee joint
    • Worsening or unchanged pain
    Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
    • Smoking
    • Poor nutrition
    • History of blood clots
    • Long-term illness
    • Use of certain medications

    What to Expect

    Prior to Procedure

    Your doctor may do the following:
    • Physical exam
    • Blood test
    • X-ray
    • MRI scan to get images of the internal structure of the knee
    Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure
    Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the day before your surgery, unless told otherwise by your doctor.


    Anesthesia will keep you pain-free and comfortable during the procedure. Depending on the procedure, anesthesia may be:
    • Local—the area around the knee will be numbed
    • Spinal—your lower body will be numbed from an injection into the back
    • General anesthesia —you will be asleep

    Description of the Procedure

    There are 2 methods for meniscectomy. The more common procedure is called arthroscopy. Arthrotomy, an open technique, is rarely used. This may also be referred to as an open meniscectomy.
    Small incisions are made around the knee. Special tools are inserted into the knee joint. A tiny camera will provide a view of the inside of the knee. The damaged meniscus is either repaired or removed. The goal is to remove as little cartilage as possible. A drain may be inserted to drain away fluid. The incisions are closed with stitches.
    A larger incision is made over the knee joint. The meniscus is then either repaired or removed. The incision is closed with stitches. It usually results in a longer recovery period. This process is usually done when there are problems with the knee that make the arthroscopic procedure difficult.

    How Long Will It Take?

    The procedure usually takes less than 1 hour.

    How Much Will It Hurt?

    Anesthesia will block pain during the procedure. You will have pain after the procedure. Ask your doctor about medication to help manage pain.

    Post-procedure Care

    At the Care Center
    Right after the procedure, the staff will monitor your recovery. The staff may give you:
    • Pain medication
    • Antibiotics to prevent infection
    • Medication that prevents blood clots
    At Home
    When you return home, you will need to:
    • Use crutches or knee splint as directed by your doctor.
    • Do exercises as recommended. You may start with simple thigh muscle exercises the day after surgery. More strengthening exercises will be added later.
    • Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
    If the meniscus was removed, it generally takes 3-6 weeks to return to full activities.
    If the cartilage was repaired, it can take up to 4 months for full recovery. The goal of the first week is to reduce pain and swelling. After this, the goals are to increase range of motion and weight-bearing. Physical therapy is often done several times a week for 4 weeks or more. At 6-8 weeks, low impact activities can often be added. This will help to prepare you to return to sports or activities. Running, cutting, and rotation are avoided for at least 16 weeks.

    Call Your Doctor

    Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
    • Pain, redness, or swelling in either calf
    • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Swollen, discolored, or cold toes
    • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
    • New or worsening symptoms
    If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


    American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine http://www.sportsmed.org

    Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org


    Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org

    Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org


    Arthroscopy. John Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test%5Fprocedures/orthopaedic/arthroscopy%5Fprocedure%5F92,P07676/. Accessed February 11, 2016.

    Knee arthroscopy. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00299. Updated March 2010. Accessed February 11, 2016.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.