San Francisco, California -- The Meniscus Transplantation Study Group has revealed that meniscus tissue can be successfully replaced by tissue replacements such as cadaveric allografts, using artificial materials such as polyurethane scaffolds, and using polycarbonate-urethane implants. These advances bode well for all those who have developed knee pain or arthritis and want to avoid a total knee replacement, the group says.
The meniscus cartilage is the key shock absorber in the knee joint, and when injured, it is often removed. Loss of this critical structure often leads to joint pain and arthritis. Of the 1.4 million knee surgeries occurring in the US each year, 98 percent result in the removal of meniscus tissue.
At a recent San Francisco meeting, eight investigators from five countries presented studies of meniscus replacement.
Peter Verdonk MD of Belgium unveiled a novel artificial meniscus implantmade from polycarbonate-urethane. The implant is meant for patients whohave a missing meniscus and knee pain, but whose knees are otherwisehealthy. The data is preliminary but represents a new bionic approach tocartilage replacement. Verdonk also described the successes andfailures of an artificial scaffold designed to regrow tissue calledActifit. The complication rate is still too high at 20 percent, butimprovements are planned.
From the US, Kevin Stone MD of the Meniscus Transplant Center at The Stone Clinic in San Francisco presented the largest and longest study of meniscus transplantation. The study spanned 16 years of data with about 80 percent success at improving patient pain and function in both pristine and arthritic knees. Many patients were able to return to a wide range of sporting activities after undergoing meniscus transplantation.
Mathew Provencher MD, MC, USN of the US Navy presented data on the biomechanical changes in the knee for soldiers with a new meniscus and an osteotomy realignment procedure. The soldiers' pain was diminished and some were able to return to active duty.