Why lateral meniscectomy is more dangerous than medial meniscectomy. A finite element study

J Orthop Res. 2006 May;24(5):1001-10. doi: 10.1002/jor.20037.


Total meniscectomies are commonly thought to cause progressive degenerative arthrosis pathology in articular cartilage in a period of a few years because of alteration of the biomechanical environment including increased joint instability. This concern has lead to a preference for partial meniscectomies, although lateral partial meniscectomies sometimes lead to catastrophic results. We performed a three-dimensional finite element model of the human tibiofemoral joint to examine the effect of lateral meniscectomy on knee biomechanics. The results were compared to those from modeling a medial meniscectomy. Under axial femoral compressive loads, the peak contact stress and maximum shear stress in the articular cartilage increased 200% more after a lateral than a medial meniscectomy. These increased stresses could partly explain the higher cartilage degeneration observed after a lateral meniscectomy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthroscopy
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Finite Element Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Menisci, Tibial / physiopathology
  • Menisci, Tibial / surgery*
  • Shear Strength
  • Stress, Mechanical