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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1975 Nov;57(4):525-8.

Morphological changes in the articular cartilage after meniscectomy. An experimental study in the monkey.


The medial meniscus was resected from the right knees of twelve young grivet monkeys that were killed at intervals of twenty-one to 252 days after operation. The knees operated upon and the control knees were investigated radiologically and histologically. Degenerative changes occurred in the medial femoral and tibial condyles. At first there was loss of cells from the superficial layer of the articular cartilage, with a marked decrease in the acid mucopolysaccharide content of the matrix. The chondrocytes in the deeper layer of the non-calcified zone proliferated to form clones before finally degenerating. The acellular cartilage showed splitting, and with progress of the degenerative process there was thinning and erosion of the cartilage. Eventually there was complete loss of articular cartilage with thickening and exposure of the subchondral bone. These degenerative changes were confined to a small area of the articular cartilage and had occurred despite regeneration of the meniscus. The rest of the cartilage looked normal. It is concluded that articular cartilage deprived of the protection of a meniscus may undergo arthritic changes.

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