Sometimes small meniscal tears heal on their own with rest. But repairing the meniscus with surgery is often the best treatment. It is the quickest way to get your child back to regular activities, including sports. It lessens the chances that your child will develop arthritis in the future.
Surgery for Meniscal Tears
At Seattle Children’s, we usually use a minimally invasive procedure called arthroscopy to repair meniscal tears.
The doctor inserts a tool called an arthroscope that’s about the width of a pencil into your child’s knee. The doctor then uses pictures displayed on a large monitor like a television screen to guide their actions.
The doctor will make a series of small cuts (incisions) around your child’s knee. The incisions will be just big enough to accept the tools the doctor uses.
Depending on your child’s injury, the doctor may:
- Sew the meniscus together.
- Use tiny hooks to attach the torn pieces to one another.
- Pinch the pieces together using a special kind of suture.
If the torn pieces are not big enough to stitch together, the doctor may trim the meniscus using tiny scissors, shavers or clippers.
Then the doctor will stitch up the incisions. Often, we use thread that can be absorbed by the body so that you do not have to bring your child to the clinic to have stitches removed.
Learn more about arthroscopy in children and teenagers.
After surgery, our rehabilitation specialists will help your child set up a regular program of physical therapy. Our physical therapy programs are designed to help your child recover range of motion, rebuild strength and stability, restore balance and regain confidence in using their knee.
We offer rehabilitation services in our on-site sports lab.