Injury to the meniscus is one of the most common knee-related ailments and is often accompanied by pain, swelling, and difficulty with knee function. Many patients with this problem will be able to regain normal function through a variety of well-known treatments. For those who aren’t that fortunate, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Andreas Gomoll, is working to offer an alternate solution.
Dr. Gomoll recently became the first physician in New England to perform a new type of knee surgery that replaces a patient’s damaged meniscus with an artificial implant made from synthetic polymers (plastics). The procedure is being offered to certain patients as part of a clinical trial studying the experimental device’s effectiveness at relieving pain and restoring function in the knee.
The artificial meniscus is inserted into a patient’s knee through a small incision (two to three inches). Because of its special design, featuring a thick rim and a thinner center, the device stays in place – even when squatting – without being attached to bones or any other surrounding tissue. Over time, the implant molds itself to the patient, creating a secure, comfortable shock absorber for the knee. This design is a significant advance from a similar approach that uses a metal device, which, due to its hardness, doesn’t provide shock absorption or mold itself to the patient’s anatomy.