The rationale for meniscal repair is based on the importance of the meniscus in overall knee function and stability as well as the inferior results seen with meniscectomy. The high success rate usually seen with arthroscopic meniscal repair has made it the treatment of choice for peripheral meniscal tears. This study reviewed the records of patients who have failed meniscal repair surgery to gain greater understanding of the factors that may predispose a patient to a failed outcome. From 1987 to 2002, three hundred meniscal repairs were performed (203 medial and 97 lateral). Thirty-seven patients had failed meniscal repairs. Records were available for 33 (89%) patients. The mean patient age was 25 years (range: 13-48 years) at the time of meniscal injury. The average initial tear size was 2.7 cm with a mean rim width of 2.3 mm. Eighty-eight percent occurred in ACL tears. The average time interval from initial repair to the recurrence of symptoms was 34 months. Patients who were older at the time of meniscal repair failed significantly later than those patients who were younger at the time of repair. With age stratification, those patients who were aged > or =29 years at time of meniscal repair failed at an average of 23 months. In contrast, patients who were aged > or =30 years at the time of repair failed at an average of 53 months. Larger initial tears failed significantly sooner than smaller tears. Initial tears with larger rim widths demonstrated a trend toward shorter time to failure. Patients who underwent combined ligament reconstruction with meniscal repair failed at an average of 37 months. Deficient ACLs that were treated with isolated meniscal repairs (ACL intact) failed at an average of 16 months.

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