Purpose: This in vivo histological study using an ovine model evaluated the 90-day healing of unilateral segmental meniscal allograft transplantation.
Methods: Fresh-frozen medial menisci were transplanted to replace the right medial meniscus of six female sheep. Tissue healing was evaluated using semi-quantitative, descriptive methods. Formalin-fixed meniscal, distal femur and proximal tibia tissues were evaluated using Rodeo (cellularity/collagen), Ishida (reparative bonding), Collagen I IHC (collagen I), and Mankin (cartilage organization) scores at the medial femoral condyle (MFC) and medial tibial plateau (MTP). Meniscocapsular evaluations were performed at the: (a) peripheral junction; (b) posterior sector-native meniscus junction; (c) anterior sector-native meniscus junction; (d) posterior horn internal control; and (e) anterior horn internal control.
Results: Three animals were euthanized at 39 ± 2.6 days post-surgery because of their knee condition. These animals had moderate Rodeo scores, low Ishida scores, and high Collagen I staining scores indicating moderately high fibrocartilaginous changes, mild or minimal healing and high collagen I content. Cartilage scores were low in the MFC and moderately high in the MTP, indicating mild MFC cartilage changes and moderately high MTP cartilage changes. Full-term (90 day) euthanized animals (n = 3) displayed improving Rodeo scores with mean scores of 3.3 and 3.6 at junctions (B) and (C), respectively. Ishida scores displayed similar improvements at all sectors. Collagen I staining revealed strong (grade 5) levels in all sections, with mean collagen I scores of 5, 5 and 4 for the peripheral (A), posterior (B) and anterior (C) junctions, respectively. Improved healing was observed at each segmental meniscus sector in terminally euthanized animals.
Conclusions: Segmental meniscal allograft transplantation displayed partial healing to remnant meniscal tissue. Further study is needed to better delineate the time needed for complete healing and the joint-loading progression that may enhance it.
Keywords: Histology; Meniscectomy; Meniscus allograft.