Often, a torn meniscus can be identified during a physical exam. Your doctor may manipulate your knee and leg bones into different positions to help pinpoint the cause of your signs and symptoms.
- X-rays. Because a torn meniscus is made of cartilage, it won't show up on X-rays. But X-rays can help rule out other problems with the knee that may have similar symptoms.
- Ultrasound. Ultrasound can allow the doctor to examine the inside of your knee in motion. This can help determine if you have a loose flap of cartilage getting caught between the moving parts in your knee.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce cross-sectional images of internal structures. It can create detailed images of both hard and soft tissues within your knee.
In some cases, your doctor may use an instrument known as an arthroscope to examine the inside of your knee. The arthroscope is inserted through a tiny incision near your knee. The device contains a light and a small camera, which transmits an enlarged image of the inside of your knee onto a monitor. If necessary, surgical instruments can be inserted through the arthroscope or through additional small incisions in your knee.
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- Skinner HB. Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Orthopedics. 4th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2006. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=20. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Anderson BC. Meniscal injury of the knee. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Meniscal tears. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00358. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Knee arthroscopy. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00299. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.