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Child Orthopedics
Spine - Cervical
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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I've been told I'm a good candidate for a meniscal transplant. I've also been told the failure rate is fairly high (one-third). Is it worth taking a chance on for a bum knee with no meniscus on one side and arthritis starting to develop? I'm only 41 and very active.

The verdict is in on the subject of meniscectomy (removal of the meniscus) -- don't do it unless it's absolutely necessary. And sometimes there is no way around it. But whenever possible, surgeons repair the damage and save as much of the natural meniscus (knee cartilage) as possible. But now that you find yourself in your current situation without the meniscus and with the start of arthritis, looking for options is a good idea. And the allograft meniscal transplantation has been around for more than 25 years, so we have some data on how it holds up. Allograft means the patient is receiving meniscal tissue donated by someone else (after death). The menisci are harvested and preserved by freezing them until needed. The patient receiving the graft is carefully tissue-typed to find a match with donor (allograft) tissue. A study from the Netherlands of long-term outcomes showed an overall failure rate of the allograft procedure of 29 per cent. That's almost one-third of the total group. Failure meant the graft had to be removed surgically. Graft failure occurred four to 14 years later, so you can see the graft did buy the patients some time before having a total knee replacement. And scores from the tests showed that there was a significant improvement in pain and function from before to after the allograft procedure. So, the procedure may have failed, but all was not a complete loss. Delaying the need for a total knee replacement is one important advantage offered by allograft meniscal transplantation. The graft doesn't last forever but the survival rate of the transplanted tissue is enough to delay major surgery (i.e., total knee replacement). And that's good news because knee replacements don't last forever either. And for younger adults such as yourself now developing degenerative arthritis, having a stop-gap measure between meniscectomy and joint replacement buys some pain free time with improved daily function.


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