A pilot randomized trial of meniscal allograft transplantation versus personalized physiotherapy for patients with a symptomatic meniscal deficient knee compartment

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AimsMeniscal allograft transplantation is undertaken to improve pain and function in patients with a symptomatic meniscal deficient knee compartment. While case series have shown improvements in patient reported outcome measures (PROMs), its efficacy has not been rigorously evaluated. This study aimed to compare PROMs in patients having meniscal transplantation with those having personalized physiotherapy at 12 months.Patients and MethodsA single-centre assessor-blinded, comprehensive cohort study, incorporating a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) was performed on patients with a symptomatic compartment of the knee in which a (sub)total meniscectomy had previously been performed. They were randomized to be treated either with a meniscal allograft transplantation or personalized physiotherapy, and stratified for malalignment of the limb. They entered the preference groups if they were not willing to be randomized. The Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS), International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) score and Lysholm score and complications were collected at baseline and at four, eight and 12 months following the interventions.ResultsA total of 36 patients entered the study; 21 were randomized and 15 chose their treatments. Their mean age was 28 years (range 17 to 46). The outcomes were similar in the randomized and preference groups, allowing pooling of data. At 12 months, the KOOS4 composite score (mean difference 12, p = 0.03) and KOOS subscales of pain (mean difference 15, p = 0.02) and activities of daily living (mean difference 18, p = 0.005) were significantly superior in the meniscal transplantation group. Other PROMs also favoured this group without reaching statistical significance. There were five complications in the meniscal transplantation and one in the physiotherapy groups.ConclusionThis is the first study to compare meniscal allograft transplantation to non-operative treatment. The results provide the best quality evidence to date of the symptomatic benefits of meniscal allograft transplantation in the short term, but a multicentre RCT is required to investigate this question further.

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