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The Risk of Iatrogenic Posterior Neurovascular Injuries in Lateral Meniscal Repair Based on the Standard Arthroscopic Knee Position: A Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study.

BACKGROUND: Repair of the posterior horn of the lateral meniscus using an all-inside meniscal repair device involves the risk of iatrogenic posterior neurovascular injuries. Previous studies that have evaluated this risk were based on preoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with the knee in 30° of flexion and used landmarks that are impractical in the actual operative situation.

PURPOSE: To use an MRI model simulating actual knee arthroscopic conditions to (1) compare the potential risk of injuries related to the lateral border of the posterior lateral meniscus root (LMR) through the anterolateral versus anteromedial portal and (2) establish "safe" and "danger" zones to reduce the possibility of injuries to posterior neurovascular structures when performing lateral meniscal repair in relation to the lateral border of the posterior LMR.

STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive laboratory study.

METHODS: Using 29 axial MRI scans of knees in the figure-of-4 position with joint fluid dilatation at the level of the lateral meniscus, direct lines were drawn to simulate a straight all-inside meniscal repair device deployed from the anterolateral and anteromedial portals to the lateral border of the posterior LMR, extending 14 mm beyond the joint capsule. If the line passed through or touched a posterior neurovascular structure, a risk of iatrogenic injuries was noted, and measurements were made to determine the safe zone in relation to the lateral border of the posterior LMR.

RESULTS: Repairing the lateral meniscus through the anterolateral portal in relation to the lateral border of the posterior LMR resulted in a significantly greater risk of posterior neurovascular injuries compared with repairing through the anteromedial portal, with injury incidences of 68.97% and 10.35%, respectively ( P = .001). The safe zones of lateral meniscal repair through the anterolateral and anteromedial portals were 4.15 ± 1.87 and 6.57 ± 0.98 mm, respectively, beyond the lateral border of the posterior LMR.

CONCLUSION: The risk of posterior neurovascular injuries when repairing posterior lateral meniscal tissue was found to be significantly greater through the anterolateral portal compared with the anteromedial portal.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Surgeons can use the safe zones as defined in this study to decrease the risk of iatrogenic posterior neurovascular injuries during arthroscopic lateral meniscal repair.

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