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Ohio State surgeon performs country’s 1st meniscus implant surgery

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Christopher Kaeding, the executive director of Ohio State’s Sports Medicine, was recently the first surgeon in the U.S. to implant a new plastic meniscus device. Credit: Courtesy of Wexner Medical Center

Christopher Kaeding, the executive director of Ohio State’s Sports Medicine, was recently the first surgeon in the U.S. to implant a new plastic meniscus device. Credit: Courtesy of Wexner Medical Center

Christopher Kaeding, the executive director of Ohio State’s Sports Medicine, was recently the first surgeon in the U.S. to implant a new plastic meniscus device for patients suffering from persistent knee pain because of meniscus injury. That device could help patients avoid knee replacement years later.

The “NUsurface” implant, manufactured by Active Implants, a Tennessee-based company specializing in orthopaedic implants, is currently being tested in an FDA-approved multicenter, randomized, control trial at seven locations in the U.S., including the Wexner Medical Center. The surgery was performed in Columbus on Jan. 21.

The implant has already been “successfully completed (in) a multicenter study in patients in Europe and Israel,” according to the study website, adding that, “since 2008, the NUsurface Meniscus Implant has been in use in Europe.”

“The meniscus functions as a protective pad — it helps decrease peak contact forces across the knee, it helps add stability to the knee,” said Kaeding, who is also head team physician for the OSU athletic department and a professor in the Department of Orthopaedics.

“It is not uncommon to tear the meniscus … When you tear a meniscus, most of them unfortunately don’t have a capacity to heal,” he said.

Those tears can then lead to arthritis in the knee, which could in turn make a knee replacement necessary, Kaeding added.

“We hope that this meniscus implant, by putting it into the knee, can restore some of the function of the meniscus, decrease the amount of pain the patient has, and hopefully decrease the progression of any arthritis,” he said.

Currently, there are only few options to treat meniscus injuries. They include anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, injections in the knee or a knee brace. Ideally, Kaeding said, the implant helps delay knee replacements and might even make these surgeries unnecessary.

The implant, made of plastic, is about 1.5 inches wide and 2 inches long, and has the consistency of a pencil eraser. It “can conform to the normal anatomy of the knee,” Kaeding said.

“I’m excited about the technology because it provides a solution, at least an option for these patients that currently don’t have many good options,” Kaeding said. “I’m optimistic that this will be a great addition to what we can offer patients that lost the meniscus.”

The surgery itself takes 1 to 1.5 hours, and the patient can normally leave the hospital the same day. Within a week to 10 days, patients are expected to walk normally, Kaeding said.

Kaeding said 54-year-old Drake Ross, the patient who received the implant at the Wexner Medical Center, “is now two weeks out and doing very well.”

Meniscus injuries are a common condition in the U.S. “Currently, an estimated 720,000 patients undergo knee replacement surgery yearly,” according to a press release by the Wexner Medical Center. “That number is expected to skyrocket to 3.5 million cases by 2030.”

Patients between 30 and 75 years old who have had one part of the meniscus trimmed out in surgery and suffer from knee pain could be eligible for the VENUS Clinical Study, which stands for “Verifying the Effectiveness of the NUsurface System.” Those patients can get in contact with the OSU Sports Medicine Center to determine further criteria of eligibility.

This is a comparative study, though, so only 50 percent of the patients enrolled in the study receive the implant, while the other half are treated with “non-surgical standard of care,” according to the study website.

The study wants to “prove that the NUsurface Meniscus Implant works as well as or better than the current standard of care,” the website states.

The FDA declined to comment because regulations prohibit the agency from discussing any product that has not been approved.

Kaeding said it will be several years at the earliest before the FDA approves the product for regular use.

The OSU Sports Medicine Center has about five ongoing clinical studies, and Kaeding said the Wexner Medical Center in its totality, especially the James Cancer Hospital, has many more ongoing trials.

11 comments

  1. I am interested in more information on this. I had surgery on a meniscus tear and having difficulty.

  2. Dear Diane- please go to this link to find a center near you:
    https://www.meniscus-trial.com/

  3. I had a knee replacement with a tritium rod, and cement. Does that make scents. I had this done in 2010. I am not allowed to squat and walk. I had therapy. But I did not continue therapy. But now the backside of my knee is hurting. It is the right knee. I had fallen on that knee many times. Ever since maybe 3 times. Off to the other knee. I squatted. I was allowed to do stairs. Sometimes that hurts the knee. The left Knee I had 3 scopes done to it. The left one is sore also. I do have a exercise bike. I also have a 3 wheel bike. But the 3 wheel bike I am unable to ride. I live in Texas. Please reply. Thank you

    • Did you receive a response yet? I also have pain in the back side of my knees. I am told that I need both knees replaced but when I saw the first article about Dr. Kaeding’s new procedure I wanted to wait. I am disheartened to read that it will be some time before it will be offered. I still plan on going to see Dr. Chris again as it has been a long time and nothing phases the disabling pain.

  4. Please help me with information. I have had a knee replacement that is not working correctly. Have lots of muscle loss. Now the other knee is bad. I would love to see if you could offere some relief. Thank you

  5. I am currently dealing with having to face the possibility of a partial knee replacement. I am very interested in this new study and would like to see if I would be a candidate and where the studies are being held? Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

  6. I’d love to get something like this done. I’m a exerciser, coach, ball player in my mid 40’s. I don’t really have several years to wait. Is there some way I don’t have to wait for the FDA for several years?

  7. W. Richard Schick

    Is the NUsurface Meniscus implant applicable to knees with arthritis?

  8. I am a 69 year old male in very good health. In 2015 I tore a meniscus and had surgery Dec. 23, 2015.

    I have injured this same meniscus again, and I’m having a lot of pain. I have Medicare Insurance, and a very good supplement insurance through Humana.

    What can I do to become a possible candidate for the artificial meniscus implant?

    Nathan Lowe
    43 School House Road
    Leitchfield, KY. 42754
    270-230-3454

    Sent from my iPad

  9. I see no result of this surgery anyplace. I’m guessing it has been a total failure.

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