How Much Does Meniscus Tear Surgery Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 8, 2018

Meniscus tear surgery is a surgical procedure performed to correct or treat one or more of the fibrocartilage strips in the knee, known as menisci.  A patient’s usual complaint when he or she tears the meniscus is swelling and pain that is on the knee, and there are different causes of a tear to the meniscus, but this usually happens to athletes since they tend to be more active.

The price for this surgery depends on the amount of damage that needs to be fixed, the geographical location, the surgeon performing the procedure and inclusions in the bill.

my knee in a brace by D.L., on Flickr
my knee in a brace” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by D.L.

How much does a meniscus tear surgery cost?

On average, the surgery can cost anywhere from $5,000 to as much as $30,000 without health insurance.  However, according to our research, the average surgery with no complications will cost anywhere from $3,000 to $11,000.

For those who have a health insurance policy, most policies will cover this procedure as long as it is deemed medically necessary.  Check with your health insurance provider to ensure that a procedure such as this is covered.  Those with insurance have reported paying anywhere from $100 to $320 after insurance kicked in.

Procedures that are done in foreign countries, such as Mexico and India, can range anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000.  If considering a route such as this one, be sure to do your homework before choosing a hospital since it can be very risky.

According to NewChoiceHealth.com, the price of the surgery can range anywhere from $9,600 to $14,400 depending on the location.

According to PlacidWay.com, torn meniscus surgery can cost an average of $9,000, but the price can increase to $30,000, depending on the chosen surgical procedure, location, surgeon’s fees and the hospitalization costs.

Factors that affect the price:

Facility

The facility where the surgery is performed is a major influence on the overall price of the surgery. For example, the minimum cost in an ambulatory surgical center in Walla Walla, Washington is $5,900, while the same procedure costs $24,000 in a rural hospital in Bucyrus, Ohio.

Location

Geographical location can influence the total cost of the surgical procedure. For instance, meniscus surgery can cost about $15,000 in Los Angeles and around $9,000 in Atlanta.

Professional fees

These fees can vary from one surgeon to another and can be based on professional experience, expertise and type of surgical procedure. Anesthesiologists also have different rates. They may also charge patients on an hourly basis.

Meniscus tear surgery overview

Before the procedure is even considered, the doctor will want to run a series of tests to determine the extent of the damage.  They will check the tenderness around the meniscus and will also bend, straighten and rotate the knee to listen for any clicking noises.  If a clicking noise is heard, this can be a sign of a tear.  When a tear is suspected, imaging tests will be ordered to confirm the extent of the damage.  If it’s minor, then the doctor may recommend a natural remedy such as resting and elevating the knee, but if it’s severe, surgery may be the next step.  Most of the time, if the patient has pain after trying treatments or the knee locks up instead of working normally, then the doctor will often recommend the procedure.

There are two kinds of surgeries that can repair a meniscus tear.  One method will simply sew the tear back together, while the other method will remove part of or all of the meniscus.

Performed under a general anesthesia or a spinal block, the knee joint will be opened with a few small holes and the meniscus build-up will either be removed or repaired by stitching it back together.  Through technology, some procedures such as arthroscopic knee surgery will only require small incisions.  After the surgery has been performed, physical therapy will be required for the next two to eight weeks.

As long as there are no complications, no hospital stay will be required.

Surgery, according to Cigna, will work 85 percent of the time.  It tends to be most successful in younger people, knees with good stability and if the repair is done a few weeks after the injury.

What are the extra costs?

An MRI, often performed before the procedure is even considered, can cost up to $1,000, while a doctor can charge up to $349 for the office visit and viewing the results.

Blood work will need to be taken a few weeks prior to the procedure.

Physical therapy will be needed after the surgery for the patient to regain balance, posture and knee strength after the surgery.  Every visit to the therapist can start at $80 without health insurance.  For those with insurance, the rates can be $10 to $50.  Plan on waiting at least three to six weeks before returning to full activities.  This recovery period will depend on how extensive the surgery was.

Crutches may be required to help ease the pressure off the joints after the surgery has been performed.  If you don’t have a pair, buying a set can cost about $30 to $60.

Pain medication and prescriptions will be prescribed after the procedure to keep the pain at a minimum.

Tips to know:

Candidates for this type of surgery are often going to have pain when straightening your leg as well as swelling around the knee area.

Getting successful knee surgery can help prevent long-term complications like osteoarthritis.

In general, arthroscopy is typically a less invasive surgical procedure and can be less expensive.

Can a torn meniscus get worse?  Since there’s no blood supply, this type of tear can’t heal itself, only making the situation worse.   Most of the time, according to runners who have had the procedure done, have found the tear did get worse if no treatment was done.

How can I save money?

The best way to save money is to have your insurance company involved with the payment.  They can cover at least 60% of the total cost, which can make your out of pocket expense very minimal.

Consider talking with at least three different hospitals.  See what each one can do for you in terms of pricing.  If you do not have a health insurance plan, consider paying up front with a cash payment since many hospitals will be able to give a discount to cash patients.


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