Treatment of meniscus tears during anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

Arthroscopy. 2012 Jan;28(1):123-30. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2011.08.292. Epub 2011 Nov 9.


Purpose: To define the incidence of meniscectomy, meniscus repair, and meniscus tears left in situ during anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction.

Methods: A systematic search of PubMed and 7 sports medicine journal databases was performed to determine the treatment of meniscus tears during ACL reconstruction. Inclusion criteria were English language, publication in the last 10 years, clinical trials, all evidence levels, and skeletally mature or immature knees. Exclusion criteria were revision ACL reconstruction, concomitant ligament reconstruction, and studies with exclusion or inclusion criteria regarding meniscus surgery during ACL reconstruction.

Results: Of 634 articles identified, 159 met the inclusion criteria, encompassing 19,531 patients. There were 11,711 meniscus tears; they were treated by meniscectomy in 65% (7,621 tears), treated by repair in 26% (3,022 tears), or left in situ in 9% (1,068 tears). Only 19 studies analyzed the treatment of meniscus tears according to the tibiofemoral compartment. These reported medial compartment tears were treated by meniscectomy in 63%, treated by repair in 27%, and left in situ in 9%. Lateral compartment tears were treated by meniscectomy in 71%, treated by repair in 14%, and left in situ in 14%. Only 24 studies identified the type of meniscus repair procedure performed. In 33 studies (21%) repair was performed more frequently than meniscectomy.

Conclusions: Meniscectomy is performed 2 to 3 times more frequently than meniscus repair during ACL reconstruction. We were unable to analyze the effect of the location and type of meniscus tear, sex, age, or chronicity of injury on the treatment of meniscus tears. The number of potentially repairable meniscus tears that were treated by resection could not be identified.

Clinical relevance: This study found that meniscectomy was performed in 65% of meniscus tears. This is concerning because studies have shown that, regardless of knee stability obtained after ACL reconstruction, meniscectomy accelerates degenerative joint changes.

Level of evidence: Level IV, systematic review of Level I to IV studies.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / methods*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Knee Injuries / diagnosis
  • Knee Injuries / surgery
  • Male
  • Menisci, Tibial / surgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Trauma / surgery
  • Orthopedic Procedures / methods
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult