Meniscal Allograft Transplantation
What is a meniscal allograft transplant?
Meniscal allograft transplantation (MAT) is a surgical procedure used to replace a damaged or missing meniscus in the knee with a donor meniscus from a deceased individual (cadaver).
A meniscus transplant, also known as meniscal allograft transplantation, is typically recommended in specific situations when a patient has persistent knee pain and functional limitations due to a damaged or missing meniscus, and conservative treatments have been ineffective.
- Meniscectomy-related Issues: Patients who have undergone a partial or total meniscectomy (removal of all or part of the meniscus) due to injury or degenerative changes may experience ongoing knee pain, instability, and cartilage wear. Meniscus transplantation can be considered as an option to restore the missing meniscus and improve knee function.
- Young, Active Patients: Meniscal allograft transplantation is often recommended for younger, active individuals who have suffered a meniscus injury that cannot be repaired and significantly impacts their daily activities and sports performance.
- Post-Traumatic Meniscus Tears: In cases of traumatic meniscus tears that cannot be adequately repaired, MAT can be considered to preserve knee joint integrity and prevent further damage.
- Early Signs of Knee Arthritis: A meniscus plays a crucial role in distributing forces in the knee joint, reducing stress on the articular cartilage. Meniscus deficiency can accelerate the development of knee arthritis. MAT may be recommended to delay or prevent the progression of arthritis in certain cases.
- Meniscus Tears in a Single Knee: When a patient has a meniscus tear in only one knee and the contralateral knee has an intact meniscus, meniscal allograft transplantation can be considered to preserve the knee with the tear.
The patient receiving the meniscal allograft is thoroughly evaluated to determine if they are a suitable candidate for the procedure. Factors such as the patient’s age, activity level, overall knee condition, and previous surgeries are considered during the evaluation.
If suitable, the donor meniscus is obtained from a deceased individual whose tissues match the recipient’s requirements. The donor meniscus is carefully screened to ensure it is free from infections or other potential complications.
The MAT is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed using arthroscopy. It is typically performed under general anesthesia. Dr. Reynolds will make several small incisions around the knee joint to access the damaged area.
The damaged or missing meniscus is removed, and the knee is prepared to receive the donor meniscus. An osteotomy may be needed to adjust alignment of the bones. Then the donor meniscus is sized and positioned appropriately to match the recipient’s knee anatomy. Dr. Reynolds then secures the allograft in place using sutures, anchors, or other fixation methods.
Incisions are closed with stitches or adhesive strips and the knee will be covered with a dressing or bandage.
Rehabilitation is crucial to the recovery process. The patient will undergo a structured rehabilitation program to promote healing, regain strength, and restore function in the knee joint.
Full recovery can take 9 months to a year.
Studies report that 80% of MAT patients experience good to excellent results. MAT is a reliable procedure that provides good clinical outcomes for younger and active patients with knee pain and disability.
MAT is aimed at alleviating pain, improving knee function, and delaying or preventing the onset of knee arthritis associated with meniscal deficiency. MAT with or without osteotomy may be the only options to relieve symptoms and allow patients to return to an active life. MAT improves quality of life for well selected patients.