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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    My MRI shows an inside knee meniscus tear. Will an arthroscopy fix it?

    Related Topic
    I am 77. I had same damage to my other knee 4 years ago. Underwent arthroscopy which didn't help followed by half knee replacement which is not so good, but I cope.
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    Dr Simon Zilko

    Orthopaedic Surgeon

    Dr Simon Zilko - Foot & Ankle Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Simon Zilko is a locally and internationally trained consultant orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in all … View Profile

    This is a great question which is commonly asked of orthopaedic surgeons. Arthroscopy of the knee can be a great tool, but only in the right circumstances. If your knee is otherwise in good condition, with no arthritis/degenerative change, and the meniscal tear is causing purely mechanical symptoms (like locking or catching), then an arthroscopy can help these symptoms. However, the evidence is now quite clear that arthroscopy for a meniscal tear in the setting of an already degenerative knee is of little benefit (excluding a couple of scenarios, like a bucket handle tear or locking of the knee).

    At the age of 77, and having already had a partial knee replacement, it's likely you've got some pre-existing arthritis in your knees. In this case, arthroscopic clean-up is not likely to provide any benefit. 

    This is general advice of course, and if you've got a painful knee with a meniscal tear then the best course of action is to be assessed by your orthopaedic surgeon and discuss the options. There may be plenty of non-surgical treatments to try first, including physiotherapy for quadriceps strengthening and core strength, as well as activity modification and anti-inflammatory medications. Best of luck.

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