Background: Meniscus deficiency may lead to degenerative arthritis in the knee. There is a significant emphasis on meniscus preservation, particularly in the young patient, to reduce the risk of arthritis.
Purpose: To report on the incidence of meniscus repair and meniscectomy, with and without concomitant anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, in the United States (US) over the past 7 years.
Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.
Methods: Patients who underwent arthroscopic meniscectomy (Current Procedural Terminology [CPT] codes 29880 and 29881), meniscus repair (CPT codes 29882 and 29883), and ACL reconstruction (CPT code 29888) for the years 2005 through 2011 were identified using the PearlDiver Patient Record Database. Age group and sex were collected for each patient. Patient groups included meniscectomy alone, meniscus repair alone, meniscus repair followed by meniscectomy, ACL reconstruction with concomitant meniscus repair, and ACL reconstruction with concomitant meniscus repair followed by meniscectomy. Linear regression and Student t tests were utilized for comparisons, with an α value of .05 set as significant.
Results: The database represented approximately 9% of the US population under 65 years of age. There was no significant change in the number of patients in the covered population during the study time frame (P = .138). From 2005 to 2011, there were a total of 387,833 meniscectomies, 23,640 meniscus repairs, and 84,927 ACL reconstructions. There was a significant increase in the total number of isolated meniscus repairs performed (P = .001) and a doubling of the incidence of repairs from 2005 to 2011. There was no significant increase in the total number of meniscectomies performed (P = .712), while the incidence of meniscectomies increased only 14% from 2005 to 2011. There was no significant change in the number of meniscus repairs performed at the same time as ACL reconstruction during the study time frame. The total number and incidence of meniscectomies after repair with and without ACL reconstruction significantly decreased.
Conclusion: There has been an increased number of isolated meniscus repairs being performed in the US over the past 7 years without a concomitant increase in meniscectomies over the same time frame. These data suggest that meniscus repairs are preferentially being performed over meniscectomies.
Keywords: ACL; knee; meniscectomy; meniscus; osteoarthritis; repair.