kneesurgery_050406

Arthroscopy, a surgical procedure by which surgeons can diagnose or treat joint problems, is often used to assess meniscal tears.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Tuesday a new knee-surgery device that will help repair meniscus tears, a formerly irreparable injury that can cause pain in the knee joint.

The recent findings were published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Researchersat the University of Missouri developed the BioDuct Meniscal Fixation Device, which preserves the meniscus, a padding tissue that acts as a shock absorber and joint stabilizer in the knee.

Removal of the meniscus causes the knee bones to run together, often leading to arthritis.

"In the past, when faced with meniscus injuries, surgeons were often forced to completely remove the torn meniscal cartilage, leaving a deficient knee that was doomed to develop arthritis," said James Cook, a professor of veterinary medicine and surgery at the University of Missouri.

The device will allow the meniscus to heal and restore knee function by transporting blood and cells from the vascular portion of the knee to the avascular portion of the meniscus, he said.

The researchers performed BioDuct surgery on 25 dogs that had severe meniscal tears. After implantation of the device, the menisci in the dogs' knees were partially or completely repaired within a few weeks, the report says.

Cook said the device will lead to fewer patients developing arthritis, which will result in fewer joint replacements.

Meniscal injuries are common in intense athletic activities involving twisting, jumping and sudden deceleration. Symptoms of a meniscal tear can include "popping," catching, locking and buckling of the knee, and joint pain.

Arthroscopy, a surgical procedure by which surgeons can diagnose or treat joint problems, is often used to assess meniscal tears.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, there were 30,597 arthroscopies in Canada in 1999-2000, making it one of the most commonly performed orthopedic procedures in Canada.