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Knee Meniscus Anatomy

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Knee Meniscus Anatomy

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Knee Meniscus Anatomy is a vital part of the knee joint, it acts to prevent the deterioration and degeneration of articular cartilage, and the onset and development of osteoarthritis. For this reason, research into meniscus repair has been the recipient of particular interest from the orthopedic and bioengineering communities.

Knee Meniscus is a crescent shape structure, triangular in cross section, that cover one half to two thirds of the articular surface of the corresponding tibial plateau.

There are two Meniscus in the knee, Medial Meniscus and Lateral Meniscus. 50% of medial tibial plateau covered by medial meniscus, whereas 59% of lateral tibial plateau covered by lateral meniscus.

See Also: Knee Ligaments Anatomy

Knee Meniscus functions:

  1. Knee Meniscus acts as a joint filler.
  2. Compensate for gross incongruity between femoral and tibial articulating surfaces.
  3. Prevent capsular and synovial impingement during flexion-extension movements.
  4. joint lubrication function, helping to distribute synovial fluid throughout the joint and aiding the nutrition of the articular cartilage.
  5. Contribute to stability in all planes but are especially important rotary stabilizers.
  6. Reduce the stress on the articular cartilage; they prevent mechanical damage to both the chondrocytes and the extracellular matrix
  7. Shock or energy absorbing functions (from 40% to 60% of the superimposed weight in the standing position are carried by the menisci).
See Also: Knee Meniscus Tear
meniscus of the knee
Meniscus of the knee

Knee Meniscus Composition:

  • The Meniscus composed of dense, tightly woven collagen fibers:
    1. 90 % Type I collagen.
    2. 65-75% water
    3. Proteoglycan.
    4. Glycoproteins.
    5. Cellular elements.
  • The collagen fibers arranged in many direction:
    1. Longitudinal (circumferential)
    2. Radial
    3. perforating fibers ( a little)
  • This arrangement provides great elasticity and ability to withstand compression.
Fibers of the meniscus
Fibers of the meniscus

Knee Meniscus Blood Supply:

The main blood supply to the meniscus of the knee comes from:

  1. The lateral geniculate artery: Supply 10-25 % from peripheral region of the lateral meniscus.
  2. Medial geniculate artery: Supply 20-30 % from peripheral region of the medial meniscus.
  • The lateral and medial geniculate artery is a branch of the popliteal artery.

There are three vascular zones of the Knee Meniscus:

  • Red-Red zone:
    • Completely within the vascular zone.
    • Tears within this zone have the highest healing potential.
  • Red-Whitezone:
    • Intermediate vascularity.
    • Less predictable healing.
    • Red-Red and Red-White comprise the outer 4 mm of the meniscus.
  • White-Whitezone:
    • Avascular
    • Nutrition solely derived from synovial fluid via passive diffusion.
    • Poor healing response
  • Other parts receive nutrition through diffusion from the synovial fluid.
Meniscus blood supply
Meniscus blood supply

Medial Meniscus Anatomy

  • The medial Meniscus of the knee is a C-shaped structure larger in radius than the lateral meniscus.
  • Posterior horn is wider than the anterior horn.
  • Most of the weight is borne on the posterior portion of the meniscus.
  • The peripheral attachments are more rigid than the lateral meniscus.
  • The average width is 9 to 10 mm , and the average thickness is 3 to 5 mm.
  • It is likely to be injured during rotation because: Its anterior and posterior attachments follow the tibia, but its intervening part follows the femur.
  • Medial meniscus tears occur more often with chronic anterior cruciate ligament deficiency.

Lateral Meniscus Anatomy

  • The lateral Meniscus of the knee is more circular in form, covering up to two thirds of the articular surface of the underlying tibial plateau.
  • The tendon of the popliteus muscle separates the posterolateral periphery of the lateral meniscus from the joint capsule and the fibular collateral ligament.
  • It’s more mobile than the medial meniscus.
  • The average width is 10 to 12 mm, and the average thickness is 4 to 5 mm.
  • It’s less likely to be injured because it is firmly attached to the popliteus muscle and to the ligament of Wrisberg or of Humphry, which make it follows the lateral femoral condyle during rotation.
  • Acute lateral meniscus tears are more common associated with Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury.

The menisci follow the tibial condyles during flexion and extension, but during rotation they follow the femur and move on the tibia.

Meniscus blood supply
Meniscus blood supply

Meniscal injury Clinical Examination

In case of meniscal injuries, the special tests used to examine the knee for meniscal injury are:

  1. Lateral McMurray Test for lateral meniscus.
  2. Medial McMurray Test for medial meniscus.
  3. Thessaly test.
  4. Ege’s Test.
  5. Apley grinding Test.


  1. Makris EA, Hadidi P, Athanasiou KA. The knee meniscus: structure-function, pathophysiology, current repair techniques, and prospects for regeneration. Biomaterials. 2011 Oct;32(30):7411-31. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.06.037. Epub 2011 Jul 18. PMID: 21764438; PMCID: PMC3161498.
  2. Campbel’s Operative Orthopaedics 12th edition Book.
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