Management of traumatic meniscal tear and degenerative meniscal lesions. Save the meniscus

Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2017 Dec;103(8S):S237-S244. doi: 10.1016/j.otsr.2017.08.003. Epub 2017 Sep 2.


Meniscectomy remains one of the most frequent orthopedic procedures, despite meniscal sparing having been advocated for several decades now. Incidence is excessive in the light of scientifically robust studies demonstrating the interest of meniscal repair or of nonoperative treatment for traumatic tear and of nonoperative treatment for degenerative meniscal lesions. It is high time that the paradigm shifted, in favor of meniscal preservation. In traumatic tear, and most particularly longitudinal vertical tear in vascularized zones, repair shows a high success rates in terms of recovery time, functional outcome and cartilage protection. Leaving the meniscus alone may be an option in asymptomatic lesions of the lateral meniscus during anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Posterior ramp lesions (in associated ACL tear), traumatic root tears and radial lesions are also excellent indications for repair, although it has to be borne in mind that the natural history of these lesions is not completely understood and nonoperative treatment also may be considered. Degenerative meniscal lesions are frequently revealed by MRI in middle-aged or elderly subjects. They are closely related to tissue aging and thus probably to osteoarthritic processes. Meniscectomy was long considered the treatment of choice. All but 1 of the 8 recent randomized studies reported non-superiority of arthroscopy over nonoperative treatment, which should thus be the first-line choice, with arthroscopic meniscectomy reserved for cases of failure, or earlier in case of "considerable" mechanical symptoms. Horizontal cleavage in young athletes is a particular case, requiring meniscal repair, to avoid a meniscectomy, which would inevitably be extensive in a young active patient. More than ever, the take-home message is: save the meniscus!

Keywords: Anterior cruciate ligament; Consensus; Degenerative meniscus lesion; Meniscectomy; Meniscus; Meniscus repair; Nonoperative treatment; Ramp lesions; Root tears.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / complications
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / surgery
  • Arthroscopy
  • Conservative Treatment
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Meniscectomy
  • Menisci, Tibial / surgery*
  • Organ Sparing Treatments*
  • Radiography
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries / complications
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries / surgery*