Meniscal allograft transplantation is a type of surgery in which a meniscus -- a cartilage ring in the knee -- is placed into your knee. The new meniscus is taken from a person who has died (cadaver) and donated his or her tissue.
If your doctor finds that you are a good candidate for a meniscus transplant, x-rays of your knee are usually taken to find a meniscus that will fit your knee. The donated meniscus is tested in the lab for any diseases.
Other surgeries, such as ligament or cartilage repairs, may be done at the time of the meniscus transplant or with a separate surgery.
You will likely receive general anesthesia before this surgery. This means you will be asleep and unable to feel pain. Or, you may have regional anesthesia. Your leg and knee area will be numbed so that you do not feel any pain. If you receive regional anesthesia, you will also be given medicine to make you very sleepy during the operation.
During the surgery:
After the surgery is finished, the incisions are closed. A dressing is placed over the wound. During arthroscopy, most surgeons take pictures of the procedure from the video monitor to show you what was found and what was done.
Two cartilage rings are in the center of each knee, one on the inside (medial meniscus) and one on the outside (lateral meniscus). When a meniscus is torn, it is commonly removed by knee arthroscopy. Some people can still have pain after the meniscus is removed.
A meniscus transplant places a new meniscus in the knee where the meniscus is missing. This procedure is only done in cases of meniscus tears that are so severe that all or nearly all of the meniscus cartilage is torn or has to be removed. The new meniscus can help with knee pain and possibly prevent future arthritis.
Meniscus allograft transplantation may be recommended for knee problems such as:
Risks of any anesthesia are:
Risks for meniscal transplant surgery are:
Tell your health care provider what medicines you are taking. This includes medicines, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the 2 weeks before your surgery:
On the day of surgery:
Follow any discharge and self-care instructions you are given.
After the surgery, you will probably wear a knee brace for the first 6 weeks. You will need crutches for 6 weeks to prevent putting full weight on your knee. You will likely be able to move the knee right after surgery. Doing so helps prevent stiffness. Pain is usually managed with medications.
Physical therapy can help you regain the motion and strength of your knee. Therapy lasts for between 4 and 6 months.
How soon you can return to work depends on your job. It can take from a few weeks to a few months. It can take 6 months and a year to fully return to activities and sports.
Meniscus allograft transplantation is a difficult surgery, and the recovery is hard. But for persons who are missing the meniscus and have pain, it can be very successful. Most people have less knee pain after this procedure.
Brockmeier SF, Rodeo SA. Knee: Meniscal injuries. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Saunders; 2009:chap 23, section B.
Packer JD, Rodeo SA. Meniscal allograft transplantation. Clin Sports Med. 2009;28:259–283.
Updated by: C.Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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