As an ideal prevention against degenerative arthritis, the University Hospital of Sharjah, through its Himchan Spine and Joint Center, has been conducting Meniscus Allograft Transplantation (MAT) for persons who are suffering from severe knee conditions due to permanently damaged menisci. The surgery has been found effective by 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 and transplanting it 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. The hospital said that 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 Orthopedic Surgeon at Himchan-UHS Joint and Spine Center, explained: “MAT minimizes friction between the shinbone (tibia) and the thigh bone (femur) and brings back the normal physiology of the knee joint. Therefore, this 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 for persons aged 40 to 50. For non-severe cases, patients can avail of treatments such as compression bandages, anti-inflammatory medications, and physiotherapy. However, if more than 70 per cent of the meniscus is damaged for patients under the age of 55, Dr. Park recommends that they undergo MAT. When he was CEO at Bupyeong Himchan Hospital in South Korea, they performed a total of 77 MAT surgeries, where 85 per cent of the patients expressed high satisfaction after the operation.
Dr. Ali Obaid Al Ali, Executive Director and Member of the Board of Trustees at the University Hospital of Sharjah, said: “Our consultant orthopedic surgeons at Himchan–UHS Joint and Spine Center are known to be some of the best in the UAE. Aside from performing expert treatments for joints and bones, they also thoroughly assess the condition of each patient and develop the best medical plan. We are proud to offer the best health care to senior patients who are prone to degenerative conditions as well as young patients with acute ailments in the country.”
Himchan-UHS Joint and Spine Center advised persons who are experiencing a “clicking” sensation on their knees as well as discomfort or swelling for more than three days to see an orthopedic surgeon to check the condition of their menisci. Otherwise, if more than half of the menisci have been 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.