Meniscal tear characteristics in young athletes with a stable knee: arthroscopic evaluation

Am J Sports Med. 2006 Jul;34(7):1170-5. doi: 10.1177/0363546506287939. Epub 2006 May 9.


Background: There has been great interest in the literature regarding meniscal tears in unstable knees, but there is not as much information available on stable knees.

Purpose: To report the characteristics of isolated meniscal tears (type and location) in athletes with intact cruciate ligaments.

Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods: Arthroscopic surgery was performed on 314 (83.1%) knees in the acute phase ( < 6 weeks) of injury and on 64 (16.9%) knees more than 6 weeks after injury for a total of 364 athletes (378 knees). Cooper's classification was used to classify the meniscal tears according to the type and location.

Results: Overall, 262 of 378 tears (69.3%) were located in the medial meniscus and 116 (30.7%) in the lateral meniscus. Vertical tears (77.5%) were significantly more frequent than were horizontal tears (22.5%; chi(2) test, P < .001). A total of 23.2% of tears involved the peripheral zones (zone 0 or 1), and tears that extended into the posterior horn accounted for 75.7%. Regarding the tear shape between male and female athletes, on both sides there were no statistically significant differences in the percentage of horizontal, bucket-handle, longitudinal, or radial tears.

Conclusion: The characteristics of isolated meniscal tears differ with regard to the sport, sex, and tear location and type from those seen in unstable knees. This knowledge is useful in knee injury management.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arthroscopy
  • Athletic Injuries / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / pathology*
  • Knee Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Ligaments, Articular / anatomy & histology*
  • Male
  • Menisci, Tibial / pathology
  • Sex Factors
  • Sports
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries*