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Meniscus Surgery Complications

Meniscus Surgery Complications

Meniscus surgery is a widely used treatment option for replacement or repair of a torn or injured meniscus. Discussed in this write-up are some complications that may arise during or after the meniscus surgery...
Abhijit Naik
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2018
Meniscus is a small cartilaginous piece of cushioning that is present between the bones that form the knee joint. It acts as a padding that prevents the bones of the knee joint from rubbing against each other, which can cause a lot of pain. However, situation may arise when a tear in the meniscus can cause the bones to rub against each other, and cause pain in the knee. In such circumstances, the person may have to opt for a surgery to repair the torn meniscus. While the surgery is not very risky as such, there do exist some complications of the same that need to be taken into consideration before opting for it.
Possible Complications of Meniscus Surgery
If the tear is small and is present on the outer side, then the person can resort to meniscus surgery alternatives such as rehabilitation. However, if the meniscus is severely torn or damaged, then surgical intervention is the only way out. The cost incurred on this surgery will depend on various factors, including whether the meniscus has to be repaired or replaced and the medical facility chosen. The surgical procedure involved is usually performed by arthroscopy - with minimal invasive operation intended to repair the joint. While invasion is minimal, the chances of meniscus surgery complications discussed below cannot be ruled out, and hence one has to make sure that they are well-versed with these complications.
Anesthesia Related Complications
As in case of any surgery that is done under general anesthesia, even meniscus surgery has some problems and complications related to the anesthesia. These include a reaction to the anesthesia, drug reactions, and other such problems. Taking the severity of this issue into consideration, the patient should inform the doctor beforehand if he has had a surgery or experienced any complications with anesthesia before.
Clots in the Leg
Thrombophlebitis - a condition which is typically characterized by the formation of blood clots in the large veins of the leg is yet another complication which can occur after meniscus surgery. While the same can occur after other surgeries as well, the chances are most in case of knee surgery and hip surgery. The formation of blood clots can lead to pain and problems like swelling. The main risk involved with these clots is that, if they break off and travel to the lungs, they can cause a pulmonary embolism, which can turn out to be fatal. One can reduce the chances of thrombophlebitis by taking certain precautionary measures - such as wearing pressure stockings or using blood thinning medications, etc.
Bleeding and Infection at the Site of Operation
A meniscus surgery - since it involves the knee, has a higher chance of leading to bleeding or infection at this site, due to the range of mobility of the knee and due to the blood supply to this region. Infection may lead to pain, swelling, stiffness in the knee and - most of all, delay the recovery or result in some follow-up problem. In such cases, the person will need to start taking antibiotics immediately to curb the problem of an infection at the surgical site. Bleeding - if seen at the surgical site, has to be controlled at the earliest to make sure further complications do not occur.
Graft and Suture Anchor Complications
If the surgery for repair entailed the placement of a graft, then there are chances that the graft may be rejected by the body. This is rare, and is usually seen if the patient does not follow up on the required post-op instructions. If the person tries to do very active movements soon, then it can result in graft failure. This can also lead to suture anchor problems. If one of it breaks, then the piece that has dislodged may end up hurting the knee joint and most importantly the cartilage. If a problem with the suture anchor crops up, then a second surgery may be required to fix the problem.
Damage to Adjacent Structures
As mentioned earlier, one of the side effects of this surgery is bleeding - which may occur when a blood vessel in the vicinity is nicked. Similarly, the chances of inducing damage to some nerve in the knee when trying to access the meniscus during the surgical process cannot be ruled out. More importantly, it can also cause numbness or weakness in the region of the knee and leg.
Continued Pain
Even though the objective of meniscus surgery is to repair or replace the worn out meniscus, and help the person get rid of pain and discomfort associated with it, a situation may arise when the pain and discomfort may surface as the complications of this surgery itself. This is likely to happen when something goes wrong in course of the surgery or when the recovery process is very slow. The recovery time will differ from person to person with some people taking longer than others to return to the routine.
These are the possible complications that may occur after a meniscus surgery. However, it is very rare that these complications arise if the person adheres strictly to all the post-op instructions. In case of a transplant, the person may be asked to wear a range of motion brace to help keep the knees straight.
Besides this, there are a few exercises and rehabilitation steps that must be followed to ensure optimum results. At the end of the day, if any of these complications arise it should be promptly brought to the notice of the doctor. When you get this surgery, you should ensure that you get the best possible results, and that will only happen if you follow all the instructions provided to you. If you don't, you'll have more problems after your meniscus surgery, which will cost you your knee, money, time and energy.