What Is the Failure Rate After Arthroscopic Repair of Bucket-Handle Meniscal Tears? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Giuseppe Gianluca Costa, Alberto Grassi, Gianluca Zocco, Angelo Graceffa, Michele Lauria, Giuseppe Fanzone, Stefano Zaffagnini, Arcangelo Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Meniscal repair has become the treatment of choice for meniscal tears, especially in the subset of bucket-handle meniscal tears (BHMTs). However, a comprehensive estimate of the corresponding failure rate is not available, thus maintaining doubts about the healing potential of these tears. Furthermore, a wide range of factors to predict high failure rates have been reported but with conflicting evidence.

PURPOSE: To determine the failure rate after arthroscopic repair of BHMTs as reported in the literature, compare this with the failure rate of simple meniscal tears extracted from the same studies, and analyze the influence of factors previously reported to be predictive of meniscal repair failure.

STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review and meta-analysis; Level of evidence, 4.

METHODS: A systematic search was conducted by 2 independent reviewers using principal bibliographic databases (PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane Library, and EMBASE). After a stepwise exclusion process, 38 articles met the inclusion criteria. Failure rate data were analyzed with a random-effects proportional meta-analysis (weighted for individual study size), and forest plots were constructed to determine any statistically significant differences between BHMTs versus simple tears (longitudinal, radial, or horizontal), medial versus lateral BHMTs, isolated procedures versus repairs with concomitant anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, and tears in red-red versus red-white zones. Moreover, a meta-regression analysis was conducted to evaluate the effect of patient age and sex, suture technique (in-out or all-inside), time from injury to surgery, mean number of stitches, and length of follow-up on failure rates.

RESULTS: The pooled failure rate was 14.8% (95% CI, 11.3%-18.3%; I2 = 77.2%). A total of 17 studies provided failure rates of both BHMT repairs (46/311 repairs) and simple tear repairs (54/546 repairs), demonstrating a significantly higher failure rate for BHMT repairs (risk ratio [RR] = 1.50; 95% CI, 1.05-2.15; I2 = 0%; P = .03). Medial BHMT repairs (RR = 1.94; 95% CI, 1.25-3.01; I2 = 0%; P = .003) and isolated repairs (RR = 1.77; 95% CI, 1.15-2.72; I2 = 0%; P = .009) had statistically higher risk of failure, but no statistically significant difference was found between tears in red-red versus red-white zones. Among the other factors evaluated with meta-regression, only the mean number of stitches showed a statistically significant effect on failure rates.

CONCLUSION: Based on the currently available literature, this systematic review provides a reasonably comprehensive analysis of failure rate after arthroscopic BHMT repair; failure is estimated to occur in 14.8% of cases. Medial tears and isolated repairs were the 2 major predictors of failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jun 23 2021


  • bucket-handle tears
  • failure
  • meniscal repair
  • predictive factors


Dive into the research topics of 'What Is the Failure Rate After Arthroscopic Repair of Bucket-Handle Meniscal Tears? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this