Background: Meniscus injuries in the United States result in an estimated 850,000 surgical procedures each year. Although meniscectomies are the most commonly performed orthopaedic surgery, little advancement has been made in meniscus replacement and regeneration, and there is currently no total meniscus replacement device approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Hypothesis: A novel fiber-reinforced meniscus scaffold can be used as a functional total meniscus replacement.
Study design: Controlled laboratory study.
Methods: A tyrosine-derived, polymer fiber-reinforced collagen sponge meniscus scaffold was evaluated mechanically (tensile and compressive testing) and histologically after 16 and 32 weeks of implantation in an ovine total meniscectomy model (N = 20; 16 implants plus 4 meniscectomies, divided equally over the 2 time periods). The extent of cartilage damage was also measured on tibial plateaus by use of toluidine blue surface staining and on femoral condyles by use of Mankin scores on histological slides.
Results: Scaffolds induced formation of neomeniscus tissue that remained intact and functional, with breaking loads approximating 250 N at both 16 and 32 weeks compared with 552 N for native menisci. Tensile stiffness values (99 and 74 N/mm at 16 and 32 weeks, respectively) were also comparable with those of the native meniscus (147 N/mm). The compressive modulus of the neomeniscus tissue (0.33 MPa at both 16 and 32 weeks) was significantly increased compared with unimplanted (time 0) scaffolds (0.15 MPa). There was histological evidence of extensive tissue ingrowth and extracellular matrix deposition, with immunohistochemical evidence of types I and II collagen. Based on significantly decreased surface damage scores as well as Mankin scores, the scaffold implants provided greater protection of articular cartilage compared with the untreated total meniscectomy.
Conclusion: This novel fiber-reinforced meniscus scaffold can act as a functional meniscus replacement, with mechanical properties similar to those of the native meniscus, while protecting the articular cartilage of the knee from the extensive damage after a total meniscectomy.
Clinical relevance: This meniscus replacement scaffold has the potential to improve surgical treatment and provide better long-term outcomes for those suffering from severe meniscus damage.
Keywords: implant; meniscus; regeneration; scaffold.
© 2015 The Author(s).