Background: The influence of standard meniscus treatment strategies regarding osteoarthritic progress, function, and sports activity has not been estimated in a direct long-term comparison.
Hypothesis: Meniscal repair compared with partial meniscectomy (partial meniscal resection) decreases osteoarthritic changes and reduces the effect on sports activity in the long-term follow-up.
Study design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.
Methods: Eighty-one patients with an arthroscopic meniscus shape-preserving surgery after isolated traumatic medial meniscal tear (repair: n = 42; meniscectomy: n = 39) were examined clinically (Lysholm score, Tegner score) and radiologically (Fairbank score, compared with the uninjured knee); the follow-up was divided into midterm (3.4 years; n = 35) and long term (8.8 years; n = 46). Additionally, the influences of the preoperative sports activity level and age at surgery were evaluated.
Results: In the long-term follow-up, no osteoarthritic progress was detectable in 80.8% after repair compared with 40.0% after meniscectomy (P = .005) with significant benefit for the "young" subgroup (P = 0.01). The preinjury activity level was obtained in 96.2% after repair compared with 50% after meniscectomy (P = .001). The function score revealed no significant difference between these strategies (P = .114). The athletes showed a significantly reduced loss of sports activity after repair compared with the athletes after meniscectomy (P = .001).
Conclusion: Arthroscopic meniscal repair offers significantly improved results for isolated traumatic meniscal tears regarding the long-term follow-up in osteoarthritis prophylaxis and sports activity recovery compared with partial meniscectomy.