Knee meniscus transplantation

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Damage to the meniscus most often occurs as a result of injury in young people playing sports (football, volleyball, skiing), but it can also be damaged during domestic activities. A damaged meniscus can be treated surgically by suturingor transplanting it.

In whom can a transplant be performed?

The indications for a meniscus transplantation procedure are mainly after total or partial (more than 50%) excision of the meniscus. This procedure is carried out mainly in young people (under 50 years of age) with increased or professional sporting activity, with chronic pain and good articular cartilage or reparable cartilage damage.

Meniscus transplantation is performed as part of an arthroscopy procedure and is a minimally invasive procedure. The surgeon inserts a camera and surgical instruments inside the knee without having to open the joint. The intra-articular structures are observed on a screen. Then several small incisions are made on the surface of the knee through which the tools and the prepared graft are inserted. Before implantation of the implant, the damaged meniscus or part of it is removed.

The most commonly performed procedure is the transplantation of a fragment of a synthetic meniscus. Implants are made of biodegradable materials and provide a scaffolding for incoming cells – they can be used provided that the peripheral part of the meniscus and its roots are preserved. The implant is gradually overgrown with natural fibrous tissue and the damaged part of the meniscus is rebuilt.

Another form of surgery is the allograftmethod where the meniscus from a deceased donor is transplanted. It is always carefully measured and tested for pathogens and then frozen and stored in a tissue bank. Before surgery it is necessary to choose the correct size of the meniscus transplant.

Benefits of transplantation:
  • preservation of joint stability and shock-absorbing function
  • reduction of pain in the knee.
  • protection of knee cartilage against excessive strain and rapid growth of degenerative changes,

After the surgery, for the first 2 weeks the patient moves on crutches with partial relief of the operated leg. Physiotherapy usually begins on the second day after the surgery and consists of a safe gradual restoration of the range of motion in the joint and strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee joint.

The time it takes to return to normal activity depends on various factors:

  • the type and location of the transplant,
  • the surgical technique used
  • patient’s commitment during rehabilitation.

Most patients return to full professional and sporting activity after about 6 weeks after the meniscus transplant procedure.


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