My doctor tells me the torn meniscus in my right knee should be repaired rather than removed, even though it's been there five years. How do they know a repair of this type is really better?

Doctors use what's called a second-look arthroscopy to assess the results of knee meniscal repair. An arthroscope is a long needle-shaped tool with a tiny TV camera on the end. It's inserted into the joint giving the doctor a look inside the joint.

A second way to judge the condition of the knee is with an MRI. An MRI scan can show any changes in the repaired or healing cartilage. Likewise, if the cartilage and a ligament was torn, both of these can be re-checked using MRIs even years later.

A recent study using both X-rays and MRIs compared the results of surgery after knee injury. One group had a torn meniscus repaired. The second group had a torn meniscus with a torn ligament repaired. Eight to 15 years later, the group with both cartilage and ligament damage had more arthritis.