As the largest load-bearing joint in the body, the demand on our knee during daily activities is immense. Therefore, it’s no surprise that wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions the knee is a fairly prevalent condition among athletes and older individuals. Until recently, individuals who have suffered severe damage to the meniscal cartilage in their knee have had relatively few options when it comes to treatment. Now patients have many options, including meniscus transplantation as an alternative to total knee replacements.
Traditional treatment methods, including removal of the torn meniscus, can reduce space within the joint and increase the risk of articular cartilage deterioration (osteoarthritis). Many of these patients go on to receive a total knee replacement in order to reduce knee pain and preserve mobility.
At the Knee Surgery Center of Excellence, however, patients may be eligible for a cutting-edge alternative known as meniscal transplantation. The arthroscopic procedure involves replacing the damaged meniscus in the knee with donor cartilage. The transplanted meniscus restores normal anatomy to the joint, thereby reducing or preventing the development of knee arthritis and need for a total knee replacement. The minimally invasive technique has been shown to be very effective in carefully and correctly selected patients.
Who is Eligible for a Meniscus Transplant?
Eligibility for meniscus transplantation is based upon a number of highly patient-specific conditions, and is determined only after thorough evaluation by the expert orthopedic surgeons at the Knee Surgery Center of Excellence. In order to ensure the best results post-surgery, candidates for a meniscus transplant must meet the following criteria:
- Younger than 55 years of age
- Persistent knee pain
- Severe meniscus tear or previously removed meniscus
- Relatively intact articular cartilage
- Stable knee ligaments
- Not obese
- Strong commitment to rehabilitation
What Does the Surgery Involve?
Meniscal transplantation is performed using knee arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgical technique. During the arthroscopic procedure, the damaged meniscus is removed through small incisions in the knee with the aid of a high-definition camera. Healthy cartilage tissue that has been taken from a human donor is then sized and anchored to the upper shinbone to recreate a fully functional meniscus. The entire procedure can be performed in under 3 hours, after which the majority of patients are able to return home the same day of surgery.
Following surgery, a brace must be used for the first 4 to 6 weeks to immobilize the knee and allow the implanted tissue to fully attach to the bone. Physical therapy can begin shortly after and is aimed at strengthening and improving range of motion of the knee. With proper post-surgical care and a commitment to rehabilitation, full recovery is expected between 6 and 12 months.
Meniscal transplantation offers exciting potential for those who are deemed candidates for the procedure. Studies have shown that 80-88 percent of patients have maintained good to excellent results at ten years post-surgery. The technique is only one example of an increasing trend towards the use of joint-preserving techniques in orthopedic medicine.
Contact a Los Angeles Orthopedic Surgeon Today
The Knee Surgery Center of Excellence boasts a team of renowned orthopedic surgeons who are leading experts in a variety of advanced knee procedures. From state-of-art facilities and equipment to a comfortable and private atmosphere, our goal at the Knee Surgery Center of Excellence is to provide each patient with individualized, high-quality healthcare.
For more information on meniscal transplantation or to schedule your initial consultation, you may call (888) 429-6865 or fill out our online contact form.
Learn about other knee procedures offered at the Knee Surgery Center of Excellence.