High Rate of Missed Lateral Meniscus Posterior Root Tears on Preoperative Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Aaron J. Krych (Corresponding Author), Isabella T. Wu, Vishal S. Desai, Naveen S. Murthy, Mark S. Collins, Daniel B. F. Saris, Bruce A. Levy, Michael J. Stuart

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Lateral meniscus posterior root tears (LMPRTs), if left untreated, can cause devastating effects to the knee, with rapid articular cartilage degeneration and loss of the meniscus as a secondary stabilizer. Detection and surgical repair of these defects have been linked to favorable outcomes, but preoperative identification of LMPRTs continues to be challenging.

To determine the rate of LMPRTs diagnosed preoperatively on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a consecutive series of arthroscopically confirmed LMPRTs.
Study Design:

Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

A retrospective cohort of 45 consecutive patients with arthroscopically confirmed LMPRTs between 2010 and 2017 were included in this study. The preoperative MRI report for each patient was evaluated and compared with intraoperative findings. Each preoperative MRI study was then reviewed by 2 fellowship-trained musculoskeletal radiologists who worked in consensus.

A total of 45 patients (32 males, 13 females) with arthroscopically confirmed LMPRTs and a mean age of 27 years (range, 14-54 years) were included in the study. Only 15 of 45 LMPRTs (33%) were initially diagnosed on preoperative MRI. Past or concurrent anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction was present in 37 of 45 cases (82%). Upon retrospective review, 15 of the 30 missed LMPRTs were “clearly evident,” 12 “subtly evident,” and 3 “occult” (unavoidably missed). There were no significant differences in the rate of LMPRT diagnosis based on history of prior knee surgery, meniscus extrusion, or tearing of the meniscofemoral ligament.

Despite improved identification of other meniscus tear patterns on MRI, a high percentage of LMPRTs were still missed. In the setting of previous ACL reconstruction, if the root cannot be confidently identified, the MRI interpretation should indicate that “the root is poorly visualized” to alert the surgeon to thoroughly evaluate this structure. The surgeon should maintain a high index of suspicion and carefully probe the posterior root of the lateral meniscus at the time of arthroscopy, especially in cases of ACL injury.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • lateral meniscus
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • meniscus root
  • meniscus root tear


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