The immediate meniscal allograft transplantation achieved better chondroprotection and less meniscus degeneration than the conventional delayed transplantation in the long-term

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2022 Nov;30(11):3708-3717. doi: 10.1007/s00167-022-06982-9. Epub 2022 Apr 28.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the long-term clinical and radiological outcomes between the immediate and delayed meniscus allograft transplantation (MAT).

Methods: Nine menisci were transplanted immediately after total meniscectomy (immediate group, IM), and 10 menisci were delayed transplanted in patients with the median of 35 months (range 9-92 months) after total meniscectomy (delayed group, DE). Patient's subjective clinical outcomes including VAS, IKDC, Lysholm and Tegner scores as well as muscle strength measures were compared. Joint degeneration was evaluated by both radiographs to assess joint space width narrowing, Kellegren-Lawrence (KL) grade and MRI with T2 mapping sequences to quantitatively analyze both cartilage and meniscal allograft degeneration.

Results: The median follow-up time was 10.8 years (range 10-14 years). The IKDC (IM vs DE, 89.8 vs 80.9, n.s.) and Lysholm scores (IM vs DE, 87.7 vs 78.0, n.s.) were close in two groups, while the IM group showed slightly lower VAS (IM vs DE, 0.2 vs 1.5, p = 0.031), higher Tegner score (IM vs DE, 7 vs 3.5 p = 0.021) and better quadriceps muscle strength. The IM group had less joint space narrowing (IM vs DE, 0.35 mm vs 0.71 mm, n.s.), less KL grade progression (IM vs DE, 0.6 vs 1.7, p = 0.041) on radiographs and less chondral lesions development on MRIs (Cartilage Degeneration Index, IM vs DE, 252 vs 2038, p = 0.025). All meniscal grafts exhibited degeneration by showing grade 3 signal on MRI, and 4 (4/9) in the IM group and 8 (8/10) cases in the DE group. The T2 value of cartilage and meniscal allograft in the IM group was close to that of the healthy control and was significantly lower than that of the DE group.

Conclusion: Compared to the conventional delayed MAT, the immediate MAT achieved better cartilage and meniscus protection in the long-term, while its superiority in patient-reported outcomes was limited.

Level of evidence: IV.

Keywords: Allograft; Cartilage; Meniscus; Prophylactic; Transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Allografts / transplantation
  • Cartilage Diseases* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cartilage Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Cartilage Diseases* / surgery
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Menisci, Tibial / surgery
  • Menisci, Tibial / transplantation
  • Meniscus* / diagnostic imaging
  • Meniscus* / surgery
  • Transplantation, Homologous