Meniscus tears are common injuries that usually occur when there is a quick twisting or turning of the knee, such as during sports activities, or when lifting and moving heavy objects. The injury occurs most in people between the ages of 20 to 40, however, older people can also be vulnerable to tears. Repairing the tear is not always possible, but a new collagen implant, the only one in the United States that is FDA approved, may be an option for younger patients with a severe tear.
Orthopedic Surgeon Rajeev Pandarinath, MD, says there are several degrees of tears – minor, moderate and severe. “With minor and moderate injuries, there may be some swelling and pain when you bend or twist your knee. But with a severe tear, your knee may feel like it popped or locked up and there will be a lot of pain and swelling. Your knee may also feel unstable or wobbly. That’s a big indicator you will probably need surgery to repair it,” he says.
New Implant Option
Dr. Pandarinath says only specific types of meniscus tears are repairable. “If you remove a large piece of someone’s meniscus, you have more stress on the bones. We try to repair what is torn, but we sometimes can’t tell if repair is possible until we do the surgery,” he says. “If the repair cannot be done, the collagen implant is used if appropriate for that situation. Not everyone qualifies for the implant, because there must be some remaining meniscus to grow around the implant, which acts like a scaffold.”
GW Hospital is the first hospital in the region to use the implant since the FDA approved it in December 2016. “The implant is placed using an arthroscopic procedure that is minimally invasive,” he says. “It has been used in Europe for more than 10 years with good results. We are excited about this new option, and we look forward to the results it can offer for our patients.”