Meniscus transplant isn’t the type of knee surgery most people need. It is used for a specific pattern of knee pain. In the majority of cases, you will have already had the meniscus removed and then following that surgery developed knee pain. In other cases, it can be because you are too young to be considered for a joint replacement.
This knee surgery option will be entertained only after all the usual treatments like anti inflammatory medications, cortisone, Synvisc, joint supplements, physical therapy, etc. have not worked. Of course, it is up to your surgeon to decide what’s usual treatment and when it is time to move to having a meniscus transplant. If your doctor has recommended a meniscus transplant for you, you’ll want to read on for more information on this type of knee surgery.
Who is a Good Candidate for Meniscus Transplant Knee Surgery?
• Underwent prior removal of meniscus (meniscectomy)
• You are 20 to 50 years of age
• Symptoms consistent with an absent meniscus
• The bone lining (articular cartilage) of the joint is damaged
Unfortunately, many of those who have continuous problems after meniscus removal are diagnosed too late for this procedure because they already have accelerated degenerative changes to the knee joint so then they are no longer a candidate for this surgery.
Who Isn’t a Good Candidate for Meniscus Transplant Knee Surgery?
• There are degenerative changes occurring within the joint such as early onset arthritis
• A large portion of your meniscus remains. This procedure is only used when most of the meniscus is already gone.
• There is instability of the knee joint
• There is misalignment of the knee joint
• You are not willing to go through the long rehabilitation period from the surgery
• Your expectations are not realistic
Rehabilitation From Meniscus Transplant Knee Surgery
This will vary depending on what meniscus transplant procedure your doctor chooses to use. Usually your surgeon will tell you to protect the knee by using crutches for 4-6 weeks. You won’t be able to run, squat or do any other athletic activities for several months. With a good outcome, you should be able to return to your normal activities around 6 months after your surgery.
What Risks Are Associated with Meniscus Transplant Surgery?
There are risks associated with meniscus transplant knee surgery. Let’s have a look.
• Need for additional surgeries – Studies show that around 30 percent of those who have meniscus transplants require further surgery.
• Long-term results are not available – This surgery is so new that there simply isn’t any data dating back 10 or 20 years. The studies that are available are 3 to 6 year study.
• Disease transmission – There is a small risk of the transmission of disease because the meniscus comes from a cadaver. This includes hepatitis, bacterial, HIV and other infectious diseases. The risk is extremely small but it is not zero.
• The transplant could fail – Not all meniscus transplants heal in the correct position so they then need to be removed before they cause more problems. Even with proper rehab, there’s no guarantee it will heal properly.