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Meniscal Repairs

Orthopedic Program

Meriter Hospital, 9 Tower
202 S. Park Street
Madison, WI 53715
Telephone: (608) 417-5365

Learn more about our Orthopedic specialists:

Meriter Orthopedic Clinic

UW Health Orthopedics

After a tear occurs in the meniscus, a repair is performed to restore the damaged or torn cartilage.

Who is a Candidate?

People who have:

  • An acute, clean meniscus tear
  • A stable knee
  • Are under the age of 50 and are active

What is Meniscus Repair Surgery?

The meniscus is made up of cartilage that helps stabilize and cushion the joint. If the meniscus is torn, further damage may occur without treatment. For a meniscus repair to heal, the torn region must have a good blood supply to be able to access the tear.

A meniscus repair is performed by having a surgeon make an incision into the knee. A camera is inserted to view the damaged area. The surgeon will then repair the damaged portion of the cartilage. After the surgery, fluids will drain from the knee, followed by stitches to close the incision.

Arthroscopic Partial Meniscectomy

A partial meniscectomy is a procedure that removes the patient's torn meniscus.

What is a Partial Meniscectomy?

The meniscus is made up of cartilage that helps stabilize and cushion the joint. A meniscus tear is a common knee injury. If the meniscus is torn and cannot be repaired, then a partial meniscectomy is performed.

A meniscectomy is performed by having a surgeon make 2-3 poke holes into the knee. A camera is inserted to view the damaged area. The surgeon will then remove the torn and damaged meniscus. After the surgery, excess fluid is drained and each small hole is closed with a single stitch.

What are the Tear Zones?

  • Red Zone - The red zone is located on the outer edge of the meniscus. The tears in the red zone tend to heal quicker because they have access to good blood supply. Small tears can be healed by using non-surgical treatments, such as a brace.   
  • White Zone - The white zone is located in the outermost edge of the meniscus and does not have a good blood supply. The torn portion may be removed (meniscectomy) if the repairs do not cure the damaged cartilage.
  • Red and White Zone - A tear might extend from the red zone to the white zone. An orthopedic surgeon will determine what the best option is to heal the damages. If there isn't enough blood supply to heal the cartilage, then the meniscus might be repaired or removed.


The treated knee may be to be braced after surgery. Crutches will be necessary for the next few weeks after surgery. To minimize pain and swelling, the patient should place ice on the treated knee after surgery. The patient will attend physical therapy sessions to regain their range of motion. It may take three to four months for the patient to have a full recovery.

Depending on where the injury occurs and what zone is affected, the healing process may be longer for some patients and shorter for others. If the meniscus repair fails, a second surgery may be necessary to remove the re-torn meniscus. However, there is a high success rate for the first time a patient has the procedure.

Notify a Physician if the Patient Has

  • Swelling or redness of the knee
  • Increased pain after surgery
  • Signs of infection
  • Drainage from the incision