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Am J Sports Med. 2012 Feb;40(2):395-403. doi: 10.1177/0363546511424688. Epub 2011 Nov 4.

Meniscal allograft transplantation without bone plugs: a 3-year minimum follow-up study.

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Third Orthopaedic and Traumatologic Clinic, Sports Traumatology Department, Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Italy.



Meniscal allograft transplantation is a viable option for subtotally meniscectomized and totally meniscectomized symptomatic patients and potentially results in pain relief and increased function.


The use of a single tibial tunnel arthroscopic technique without bone plugs will reduce symptoms (pain) and improve knee function at a minimum 3-year follow-up.


Case series; Level of evidence, 4.


Thirty-two meniscal transplantations (16 medial, 16 lateral; 23 men, 9 women) were prospectively evaluated at a minimum of 36 months (mean, 40.4 ± 6.90 months; range, 36-66 months) after surgery. The average age at the time of surgery was 35.6 ± 10.3 years (range, 15-55 years). The transplantation was performed using an arthroscopic bone plug-free technique with a single tibial tunnel plus "all-inside" meniscal sutures. The anterior meniscal horn was sutured to the capsule. Follow-up included a visual analog scale (VAS) score for knee pain and subjective and objective International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC), Lysholm, Tegner, and SF-36 scores. All patients underwent radiographic and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evaluation of the involved knee before the surgery and at the final follow-up. The MRI outcomes were evaluated with the modified Yulish score.


Regarding clinical evaluation, there was a significant improvement in scores at follow-up compared with preoperatively: the VAS score decreased from 70.6 ± 21.7 to 25.2 ± 22.7 (P < .0001), the SF-36 physical component score increased from 37.31 ± 7.2 to 49.69 ± 8.3 (P < .0001), the SF-36 mental component score increased from 49.69 ± 10.8 to 53.53 ± 7.5 (P = .0032), the Tegner activity score increased from 3 (range, 3-5) to 5 (range, 3-6) (P < .0121), the Lysholm score increased from 59.78 ± 18.25 to 84.84 ± 14.4 (P < .0001), the subjective IKDC score increased from 47.44 ± 20.60 to 77.20 ± 15.57 (P < .0001), and the objective IKDC score changed from 1 A, 21 B, 6 C, and 4 D to 22 A, 9 B, and 1 C (P < .0001). No significant difference was found in this study between patients who received medial allografts and patients who received lateral allografts. There was no significant difference between outcomes of patients with isolated and combined procedures. The MRI findings showed 69% extruded allografts (8 medial and 14 lateral). In detail, we found 50% of the medial allografts and 87% of the lateral allografts extruded. No significant difference in clinical outcomes and modified Yulish score was found between patients with extruded allografts and with in situ allografts. The MRI results also showed a significant decrease of the modified Yulish score from baseline to 3-year minimum follow-up (P < .0001 for femur and P < .0001 for tibia). Only one patient underwent arthroscopic selective meniscectomy because of a medial posterior horn retear of the graft. One patient developed lack of flexion and underwent an arthroscopic arthrolysis. These 2 patients did not draw benefit from allografting and therefore were considered failures. In all remaining cases (94%), meniscal allograft transplantation was able to reduce symptoms (pain measured by VAS) and improve knee function (as measured by IKDC and Lysholm scores).


This study found that a single tibial tunnel arthroscopic technique without bone plugs for meniscal allograft transplantation significantly reduced pain and improved knee function in 94% of patients at a minimum 3-year follow-up.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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