What is Meniscal Transplantation?
Two wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage known as the meniscus are located between the thighbone (femur) and the shinbone (tibia). The medial and lateral menisci are special cushions within each compartment that disperse force evenly across the knee joint to prevent cartilage injury. When the meniscus is torn, it loses the ability to disperse force, which will lead to increased focal contact force and ultimately, knee osteoarthritis. Young active patients with large meniscus tears that are irreparable and those who had previous surgery to remove large amounts of meniscus may be candidates for meniscal transplantation. Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California orthopedic knee surgeon, Dr. Jervis Yau specializes in meniscus transplantation surgery to help improve knee function and pain with the goal of diminishing the risk of early onset knee osteoarthritis.
The lateral meniscus, located on the outside of the knee, absorbs approximately 70% of the knee’s impact within the lateral compartment, while the medial meniscus, located on the inside of the knee, absorbs approximately 50% of the forces based on its anatomy. Both structures play critical roles in preventing injury and osteoarthritis.
Should I Have a Meniscal Transplantation?
Dr. Yau’s goal with meniscus transplantation surgery is to replace the damaged meniscus with a donor meniscus prior to the onset of significant articular cartilage damage. In order to determine if a patient is a good candidate, Dr. Yau will perform a thorough history and physical examination followed by special diagnostic studies including xrays and MRI to assess for limb malalignment and joint status.
How is a Meniscal Transplantation Performed?
Dr. Yau performs meniscal transplantation utilizing an arthroscopic assisted approach. The procedure requires Dr. Yau to transplant a perfectly size matched meniscus from a cadaver donor into the patient’s knee. The meniscus is secured through circumferential sutures. It is important to note that Dr. Yau only uses meniscal grafts from tissue banks approved and regulated by the American Association of Tissue Bank. All allograft tissue must undergo strict harvest and processing guidelines to ensure the smallest risk of disease transmission.