A parrot-beak tear of the meniscus is an oblique tear of the knee meniscus where the torn end rounds off to resemble a parrot's beak.

Page updated January 2024 by Dr Sheila Strover (Clinical Editor)

parrot-beak tear
parrot-beak tear of the meniscus


Why is a parrot-beak tear problematical?

Often the 'beak' may flip underneath the rest of the meniscus and be missed on arthroscopy unless the surgeon is diligent in probing and pulling at the undersurface of the body of the meniscus. Over time the 'parrot-beak' may nourish itself from the joint fluid and get bigger and round itself off, occasionally causing catching in the joint.

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Can a parrot beak tear heal on its own?

A parrot-beak tear is not likely to heal on its own because it is in the 'white-white' inner part of the meniscus where there is no, or very little,  blood supply. Attempts at healing merely round off the loose end of the tear, while further stress on the meniscus may catch on the rounded bit and cause the oblique tear to extend. If it is symptomatic then the 'beak' is generally removed via an arthroscope in a partial meniscectomy procedure. In some cases, especially if the tear is in the lateral meniscus, where its special anatomy makes it more vulnerable to meniscus incompetence, a surgeon may attempt a repair.

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Oblique tear
Parrot beak tear

Dr Sheila Strover (Editor)
BSc (Hons), MB BCh, MBA

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