Innovations in modern medicine have brought many artificial joints and bionic body parts to patients. Although these devices have been used for years, a prosthetic replacement for the meniscus – the tissue pad located between the thigh and shin bones – is not yet available. At New England Baptist Hospital (NEBH), we are participating in a new clinical trial that may help make the “artificial meniscus” a reality, providing a new treatment option for millions of Americans with persistent knee pain after meniscus injury or deterioration.
Each knee has two crescent-shaped menisci – lateral and medial – that distribute the load between the upper body and leg. They are highly vulnerable to tearing, both from physical activity and excess weight. Once damaged, the meniscus has a very limited ability to heal. Over 1 million partial meniscectomies to remove or repair a torn meniscus are performed in the U.S. every year, about the same as the total number of hip and knee replacement surgeries combined. However, many patients still experience persistent knee pain following meniscus surgery.
NEBH is one of 10 sites in the U.S. participating in the VENUS (Verification of the Effectiveness of the NUsurface® System) clinical trial assessing the safety and effectiveness of the first “artificial meniscus” designed to replace the damaged one. The NUsurface Meniscus Implant, made of medical-grade plastic, is an investigational device designed to help patients with persistent knee pain due to injured or deteriorating meniscus cartilage. NUsurface, which has been used in Europe since 2008 and Israel since 2011, is inserted into the knee in a minimally invasive procedure through a small incision.
Sports medicine specialist Dr. Brian McKeon has already treated several patients with the NUsurface implant at NEBH. Click here to see Dr. McKeon and patient Jim Dirico discuss the implant and procedure with CBS Boston.
There aren’t many options for patients who are experiencing persistent knee pain following meniscus surgery. Damage to the meniscus can lead to arthritis and the need for knee replacement surgery. We hope this study confirms the European experience that found that the NUsurface implant alleviated pain in these patients, as well as delaying or avoiding knee replacement surgery.
To be eligible for the study, you must be between the ages of 30 and 75, have pain after medial meniscus surgery and have had meniscus surgery at least six months ago. To see if you qualify for the study, please visit www.meniscus-trial.com or call (844) 680-8951.