Meniscus Surgery FAQ
How do I know if meniscus surgery is right for me?
Meniscus surgery is often recommended if people have locking or catching of the knee as a result of a meniscal injury. It might also be offered if non-surgical treatment has been trialled and has not been able to relieve symptoms. Like any surgery, there are risks involved with this procedure. Some of these risks can be serious. You should discuss your options carefully with your surgeon so that together, you can decide on a treatment plan that is right for you
What happens before my surgery?
- Once you and your surgeon have decided that ameniscus surgery is the right decision for you, a plan will be discussed with you regarding your usual medications as some of these medicines (like blood thinners or blood pressure tablets) may need to be stopped before your surgery
- Some people will need to have a blood test and a tracing of your heart (ECG) before your operation
- For people with other health conditions, we may arrange for the anaesthetist to see you before your surgery to make sure your surgery is as safe as possible
- If you have health insurance that you would like to use to fund your surgery, it is important to speak with them before your operation. We can provide the information that they will require to process your claim
- We know that smoking increases the risks associated before surgery. We recommend that patients consider stopping smoking, both before and after the operation, to reduce the risk of a complication occurring
What happens on the day of surgery?
There are several steps to take to make your operation as safe and smooth as possible.
- It is very important not to have anything to eat or from 6 hours before your operation although you can have small sips water up until 2 hours beforehand. This is because some of the medicines used as part of your anaesthetic may cause the stomach to relax and if your stomach is not empty, the contents may move into the lungs and cause serious problems with your breathing
- When you arrive at the hospital, our staff will help you change into a hospital gown and will give you stockings to wear to reduce the risk of blood clot
- Your surgeon and the anaesthetist will see you before your surgery to complete your consent form and answer any questions you might have. Your surgeon will also draw an arrow on your leg to confirm the operation and side to be operated on. This is a standard part of our safety checklist for every operation
- At several points before your operation, your identity and surgery will be confirmed along with other important medical information (such as allergies). This is another standard part of our safety checklist for every operation
- When it is time for your surgery, you will be taken through to the operating room. Most people find this a little daunting as there are a lot of people in the room and a lot of specialist equipment. Just remember, everyone in the room is there to look after you, answer your questions and make you as comfortable as possible
- Most patients will require an IV line (drip) to be placed before your procedure to administer your anaesthetic
What happens after the surgery?
- When your surgery is complete, you will spend some time in the recovery room (PACU) where you are looked after by a specialist team before being transferred to the ward
- You will be given regular pain relief medication but it is important to let the staff know if you have pain, nausea or other concerns so that we can keep you safe and comfortable
- You will be shown how to use your crutches when you are comfortable and have recovered adequately from your anaesthetic
- Most people will be able to go home the same day of their surgery or will require one night in hospital
- Before you leave the hospital, you will have information about physiotherapy- a vital part of recovery after your surgery
What happens when I leave the hospital?
- Someone should be available to stay with you and provide additional support if needed when you return home from the hospital. This is particularly important in the first 24 hours after your surgery
- You will have several small waterproof dressings on your knee which should stay in place until you see your surgeon, usually 10-14 days after your operation
- It is important to see the physiotherapist and follow the program carefully to ensure that your operation has the best chance of success
How long does it take to recover from meniscal surgery?
- Everyone is different but most people are able to resume normal activities by 6 weeks
- Most people are advised to use crutches for a period after their operation for additional support
- Your surgeon may recommend avoiding strenuous activities and sports for a longer period of time, depending on the operation you have had. If you have had your meniscus repaired, it may be 3 months before you can return to sport
When can I start walking?
- Provided your pain is well controlled and you have recovered adequately from your anaesthetic, you are able to walk with crutches the same day
When can I drive?
- Generally, we advise that patients may not drive in the first 4-6 weeks after meniscus surgery. After this period, it is important to be sure you could make an emergency stop if required before resuming driving. We also recommend checking with your car insurance provider to ensure they do not have rules regarding surgery and driving. If you do not comply with these rules, they may not cover you in the event of an accident
When can I return to work?
- This depends on the type of work you do. People with a sedentary job may feel they are able to return to work soon after surgery. If your job is very active, you may require 6 weeks or longer before return to work is advised
- You should talk to your surgeon about what is right for you
When can I return to playing sport?
- This might be different for each patient. It depends on a number of factors including the surgery and the type of sport however, it would be normal to be advised to avoid sports and training for at least 6 weeks after your surgery. If your meniscus has been repaired, it may be 3 months or longer before this is recommended
Is my dressing waterproof?
- Immediately after your surgery, you will have a bulky dressing which is not waterproof. This is usually removed the following day and the dressings underneath are waterproof
- Your waterproof dressing should stay in place until you see your surgeon to check your wound, 10-14 days after your surgery
When will I see my surgeon again?
- You will receive information about your next appointment before you leave the hospital
- You will see your surgeon 10-14 days after your surgery to check your wound and then again 6 weeks after your operation
Who do I contact if I have a problem after surgery?
- If you have chest pain, shortness of breath or other serious problems, you should seek emergency attention without delay
- If you are there is a problem with your wound or if you have other concerns about your progress, you should contact your surgeon who will advise you on the best course of action