MRIs Might Not Be Able to See the Whole Health Story

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An MRI can diagnose a tear in knee  cartilage, but can't predict which tears can be repaired with  surgery. Some tears can be repaired by trimming the torn  portion of the meniscus, while others need a more  complicated meniscus repair. Avoid surgery altogether by  trying rest, ice, and pain relievers.If you’ve ever experienced chronic knee pain, chances are you’ve been for an MRI. But while an MRI can accurately diagnose a tear in the disc of cartilage cushioning your knee, according to a recent study, it can’t predict which tears can be repaired with surgery.

It’s estimated that more than 850,000 Americans undergo surgery each year for injuries to the “menisci,” two wedges of shock-absorbing cartilage in your knee joint. That surgery can involve either removing the damaged portion of the meniscal tissue or suturing the tear back together.

There’s a big difference between the two procedures: when the injured tissue is simply trimmed off, you can basically get up and walk home and you should be able to fully return to your usual physical activities within about two weeks. If you have the tear repaired, however, you’ll need about four to six weeks of recovery, and probably some physical therapy, too.

Also Read ==> Pain Behind Knee – Causes and Natural Treatments

In a recent study performed at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, researchers asked two senior radiologists to examine the MRI records of 119 patients. These patients had already undergone surgery for a meniscal tear — either a surgical repair or removal of the injured tissue. The radiologists were asked to predict whether or not each tear could be fixed.

According to the researchers, the radiologists often predicted wrong. In fact, one doctor was correct 63% of the time, and the other got it right only 58% of the time. And when each doctor gave the patients a “reparability” score, they found that the radiologists were in agreement only 38% of the time. Clearly there was a lot of confusion around which tears could be successfully repaired.

And if you think that maybe the doctors didn’t quite know what they were doing, according to the research team, both radiologists were very experienced and renowned in their field. Which begs the question: how would the average radiologist in a community hospital fare if asked to predict the reparability of a meniscal tear? Not very well at all, by all accounts.

The research team concluded by noting that MRI scans are still a great tool for diagnosing the presence of a meniscus tear, having an accuracy rate of about 99%.

Fortunately, not all meniscal tears require surgery. It is possible to recover by taking some pretty simple measures like rest, applying ice and using over-the-counter pain relievers. If you experience knee pain, try these remedies first and consider getting physical therapy. You might be able to avoid knee surgery altogether.