A knee injury like a torn meniscus can affect a young athletes knee for the rest of their life. Studies have confirmed early onset osteoarthritis in patients with ACL injuries and meniscal tears.
The meniscus is a very important structure in the knee. There are two in each knee: a medial and lateral meniscus. The meniscus provides shock absorption. It also protects the articular cartilage covering the bones within the knee joint.
Most people suffering from a torn meniscus experience this knee injury in conjunction with other knee injuries such as an ACL injury, chondral injuries, and fractures.
The incidence of meniscal tears in children versus adolescence has not be widely studied.
What is the rate (incidence) of experiencing a torn meniscus in the pediatric vs. the adolescence population?
A study from the Rady Children’s Hospital and Health Center in San Diego published by Dr. Alvin Shieh et al. in the December 2013 American Journal of Sports Medicine researched the meniscal tear pattern in relation to skeletal immaturity.
The researchers found that adolescent and child athletes sustain more complex meniscal injuries that are often less repairable and require partial or total resection compared to adults. They also found that male athletes with a BMI greater than 27 are at higher risk for a more complex torn meniscus that is not repairable.
Children are more likely to have a discoid meniscus tears, lower BMI, and meniscal injuries not associated with ligamentous injury compared to the adolescent group. The rate of ligamentous injury associated with meniscal tears in children is 28% compared to 51% among adolescence. Boys had complex tear rates of 32% compared to girls which had complex meniscal tears 20% of the time.
Surgical repair for a torn meniscus was only able to be performed 47% of the time. The remaining time a partial or complete meniscectomy was performed.