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Sports Med. 1997 Jan;23(1):61-8.

Partial meniscectomy and osteoarthritis. Implications for treatment of athletes.

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University Hospital of Innsbruck, Department of Traumatology, Austria.


The biphasic ultrastructure of the meniscus and of articular cartilage provides their function in the complex biomechanics of the knee joint including load distribution, shock absorption, viscoelasticity, a smooth low friction gliding surface and resilience to compression. Meniscectomy may lead to destruction of cartilage and to osteoarthritis of the knee joint. Osteoarthritic changes after meniscectomy have been reported in up to 89% of patients. Retrospective analysis after open or arthroscopically assisted meniscectomy revealed restriction in sports to be between 2 and 50% and cessation of sports to be between 2 and 25%. Generally, patients with degenerative changes at the time of surgery are reported to have lower knee joint function and to resume sports activities later. Pharmalogical measures to treat osteoarthritis following previous meniscectomy include pain medication and intra-articular drug administration. Additionally, range of motion and strengthening exercises and moderate athletic activities are recommended. When surgery is considered, correctional osteomies and unicompartmental or total knee arthroplasty depending on the degree of osteoarthritis are preferred.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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