Background: Meniscus injuries and resulting meniscectomies lead to joint deterioration, causing pain, discomfort, and instability. Tissue-engineered devices to replace the meniscus have not shown consistent success with regard to function, mechanical integrity, or protection of cartilage. Purpose: To evaluate a novel resorbable polymer fiber-reinforced meniscus reconstruction scaffold in an ovine model for 52 weeks and assess its integrity, tensile and compressive mechanics, cell phenotypes, matrix organization and content, and protection of the articular cartilage surfaces. Study Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: Eight skeletally mature ewes were implanted with the fiber-reinforced scaffold after total meniscectomy, and 2 additional animals had untreated total meniscectomies. Animals were sacrificed at 52 weeks, and the explants and articular surfaces were analyzed macroscopically. Explants were characterized by ultimate tensile testing, confined compression creep testing, and biochemical, histological, and immunohistochemical analyses. Cartilage damage was characterized using the Mankin score on histologic slides from both the femur and tibia. Results: One sheep was removed from the study because of a torn extensor tendon; the remaining 7 explants remained fully intact and incorporated into the bone tunnels. All explants exhibited functional tensile loads, tensile stiffnesses, and compressive moduli. Fibrocartilagenous repair with both types 1 and 2 collagen were observed, with areas of matrix organization and biochemical content similar to native tissue. Narrowing in the body region was observed in 5 of 7 explants. Mankin scores showed less cartilage damage in the explant group (femoral condyle: 3.43 ± 0.79, tibial plateau: 3.50 ± 1.63) than in the meniscectomy group (femoral condyle: 8.50 ± 3.54, tibial plateau: 6.75 ± 2.47) and were comparable with Mankin scores at the previously reported 16- and 32-week time points. Conclusion: A resorbable fiber-reinforced meniscus scaffold supports formation of functional neomeniscus tissue, with the potential to prevent joint degeneration that typically occurs after total meniscectomy. Further studies with improvements to the initial mechanics of the scaffold and testing for longer time periods are warranted. Clinical Relevance: Meniscectomy is an extremely common orthopaedic procedure, and few options currently exist for the treatment of significant loss of meniscus tissue. Successful development of a tissue-engineered meniscus scaffold could substantially reduce the incidence of postmeniscectomy joint degeneration and the subsequent procedures used for its treatment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
- tissue engineering