Surgical treatment for meniscal injuries of the knee in adults.

J. R. Howell, Helen Handoll

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Injuries to the knee menisci are common and operations to treat them are among the most common procedures performed by orthopaedic surgeons. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effects of common surgical interventions in the treatment of meniscal injuries of the knee. The four comparisons under test were: a) surgery versus conservative treatment, b) partial versus total meniscectomy, c) excision versus repair of meniscal tears, d) surgical access, in particular arthroscopic versus open. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Injuries Group trials register, MEDLINE and bibliographies of published papers. Date of the most recent search: August 1998. SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomised and quasi-randomised trials which involved the above four comparisons or which compared other surgical interventions for the treatment of meniscal injury. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Trial inclusion was agreed by both reviewers who independently assessed trial quality, by use of a 12 item scale, and extracted data. Where possible and appropriate, data were presented graphically. MAIN RESULTS: Three trials, involving 260 patients, which addressed two (partial versus total meniscectomy; surgical access) comparisons were included. Partial meniscectomy may allow a slightly enhanced recovery rate as well as a potentially improved overall functional outcome including better knee stability in the long term. It is probably associated with a shorter operating time with no apparent difference in early complications or re-operation between partial and total meniscectomy. The long term advantage of partial meniscectomy indicated by the absence of symptoms (symptoms or further operation at six years or over: 14/98 versus 22/94; Peto odds ratio 0.55, 95% confidence interval 0.27 to 1.14) or radiographical outcome was not established. The results available from the only trial comparing arthroscopic with open meniscectomy were very limited in terms of patient numbers and length of follow-up. However it is likely that partial meniscectomy via arthroscopy is associated with shorter operating times and a quicker recovery. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: The lack of randomised trials means that no conclusions can be drawn on the issue of surgical versus non-surgical treatment of meniscal injuries, nor meniscal tear repair versus excision. In randomised trials so far reported, there is no evidence of difference in radiological or long term clinical outcomes between arthroscopic and open meniscal surgery, or between total and partial meniscectomy. Partial meniscectomy seems preferable to the total removal of the meniscus in terms of recovery and overall functional outcome in the short term.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCochrane database of systematic reviews (Online)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000


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