Medial Versus Lateral Meniscus Root Tears: Is There a Difference in Injury Presentation, Treatment Decisions, and Surgical Repair Outcomes?

Published:January 20, 2020DOI:


      To determine (1) the demographic characteristics as well as radiographic findings of medial versus lateral meniscal root tears at time of presentation, (2) treatment decisions and clinical outcomes of patients undergoing medial versus lateral root repair, and (3) risk factors for worse clinical and radiographic outcomes.


      A retrospective review was performed to identify patients with symptomatic, medial, or lateral meniscus posterior root tears with a minimum 2-year follow-up. Radiographs were graded using Kellgren-Lawrence scores. Subanalysis was performed on 62 patients who underwent root repair. Tegner, Lysholm, International Knee Documentation Committee scores, and progression to arthroplasty were analyzed in the repair groups. Patient demographics, radiographic findings, and clinical outcomes were compared between medial meniscus posterior horn root tear (MMRT) and lateral meniscus root repair (LMRT).


      Of the 141 root tears, 109 were MMRTs, 30 were LMRTs, and 2 patients had both. At the time of injury, patients with MMRTs had a significantly higher age (MMRT = 51.4 vs LMRT=24.6, P < .0001), body mass index (MMRT = 32.1 vs LMRT 25.8, P < .0001), Kellgren-Lawrence score (MMRT = 1.3 vs LMRT=0.6, P < .0001), and higher rate of major meniscal extrusion (MMRT = 72% vs LMRT = 20%, P < .0001). Of the 30 LMRT, 30/30 (100.0%) were treated with meniscal repair. With MMRT, 52/109 (48%) were treated nonoperatively, 27/109 (25%) with partial meniscectomy, and 30/109 (27%) with meniscal repair. Sixty-two patients underwent meniscus root repair with an average 41-month follow-up. LMRT had significantly increased International Knee Documentation Committee (LMRT = 89.5, MMRT = 80.4, P = .02) and Tegner scores (LMRT = 6.5, MMRT = 5.1, P < .05) compared with MMRT.


      Compared with MMRTs, LMRTs occur in younger male patients with lower body mass index, less cartilage degeneration, less extrusion on magnetic resonance imaging, and more commonly with a ligament injury. Although good to excellent clinical outcomes were attained in select patients for both medial and lateral meniscus root repair, LMRTs may have better results after repair, suggesting that differences in injury and patient characteristics may contribute to differences in these outcomes.

      Level of Evidence

      Retrospective comparative study, Level III.
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