SHARJAH: The University Hospital of Sharjah, through its Himchan Spine and Joint Centre, is now conducting Meniscus Allograft Transplantation (MAT) for patients suffering from severe knee conditions as a result of permanently damaged menisci.
A meniscus is a thin fibrous cartilage between the surfaces of some joints like the knee.
The surgery has been found to be effective in 85 per cent of patients treated by the hospital’s leading orthopedic surgeon.
MAT is a minimally invasive transplant surgery that uses advanced endoscopy which involves obtaining a C-shaped cartilaginous tissue called meniscus from a donor. It is transplanted into the patient’s knee. Since this meniscus is biologically identical to the patient’s own, the engraftment rate is remarkably high and there is no transplant rejection.
According to the hospital, the procedure can be done in 90 minutes, and it leaves only a minimal scar. MAT patients can also start walking six weeks after the operation and exercise after three months.
Dr Seung Jun Park, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Himchan-UHS Joint and Spine Centre, said: “MAT minimises friction between the shinbone (tibia) and the thigh bone (femur) and brings back the normal physiology of the knee joint. Therefore, it offers a solution against degenerative arthritis and reduces pain due to meniscus damage at the same time.”
According to Dr Park, the meniscus becomes more susceptible to injury in those aged between 40 and 50. For non-severe cases, patients can avail treatments such as compression bandages, anti-inflammatory medications and physiotherapy. However, if more than 70 per cent of the meniscus is damaged in patients under the age of 55, Dr Park recommends that they undergo MAT. Dr park, who was CEO at Bupyeong Himchan Hospital in South Korea, performed as many as 77 MAT surgeries.
Dr Ali Obaid Al Ali, executive director and member of the Board of Trustees at the University Hospital of Sharjah, said: “Our consultant orthopaedic surgeons at Himchan–UHS Joint and Spine Centre are known to be some of the best in the UAE. Aside from performing expert treatments for joints and bones, they also assess the condition of each patient and develop the best medical plan.”
Himchan-UHS Joint and Spine Centre has advised those experiencing discomfort, swelling for more than three days or even a “clicking” sensation in their knees to see an orthopedic surgeon to get their menisci checked. If more than half of the menisci is permanently damaged, the risk of developing degenerative arthritis may increase up to 71 per cent within five years.
There are two menisci in each human knee which act as a cushion to absorb the force from impact on the knees as well as a lubricant that enables the knee joints to move with ease. If the meniscus damage is not properly treated at an early stage, it will damage the articular cartilage which may result in more severe knee conditions.