There are times when a patient’s knee meniscus is so severely damaged that a meniscus repair is simply not an option. In these cases, Dr. Pace may be able to help with a meniscus transplant.
When meniscus deficiency occurs, especially in someone who has healthy cartilage, strong consideration should be given to a meniscus transplant. Although it is possible to live without a meniscus, there is a very high chance of developing arthritis in a relatively short period of time.
Meniscus transplantation uses a meniscus from a cadaver donor and is performed arthroscopically on an outpatient basis. Sometimes there is cartilage damage or malalignment of the legs that needs to be corrected at the same time. These additional procedures may increase the invasiveness of the overall operation and may occasionally necessitate an overnight stay in the hospital. Regardless, the meniscus allograft can provide the necessary shock absorption to protect the cartilage surfaces of the knee.
While this procedure has been a breakthrough in knee preservation surgery, some patients may still experience continued cartilage breakdown and some may require a repeat transplant int he future. While these situations are unfortunate, it is a better position to be in than to not have a meniscus at all.
Rehabilitation is a little bit longer than standard meniscus repair but most patients are able to run at about 4 months after sugery and return to cutting and pivoting activities 6 months after surgery. Participating in cutting and pivoting sports does place the meniscus transplant at greater risk of injury but the psychological and physical well-being of athletic participation can be worth this small additional risk for young and active patients.