14 Nov 2023, 2:24 p.m.

In October 2023, the Orthopaedic team at Cheltenham General Hospital performed the first meniscal transplants ever to take place in Gloucestershire. The treatment is to relieve knee pain in people who have had their meniscus (the shock absorber in the knee) removed following injury.

The meniscus used for this procedure is donated by a non-living donor who has been age matched to the recipient. By replacing the damaged tissue, the transplanted meniscus provides a new shock absorber for the knee which both reduces pain and delays the subsequent development of arthritis.

Patients who receive a meniscus transplant will be given the opportunity to write to the family of the donor, to thank them for giving them the opportunity to receive this life changing treatment.

The team introducing this cutting-edge surgery to Gloucestershire is led by Mr Peter Kempshall and Mr Alex Dodds, both highly specialist knee surgeons at Gloucestershire Hospitals. Specialist knee physiotherapist Amanda Freeman Hicks will then guide patients through the bespoke meniscal transplant rehabilitation programme.

The knee has 2 wedge-shaped cartilages, one on each side of the knee. Each of these segments is called a 'meniscus'. These 2 rubbery menisci act as shock absorbers between your femur and your shinbone (tibia). The cartilage that covers the tibia and femur helps your bones move properly and these two menisci help protect the ends of your femur and tibia as they move together.

Sometimes an injury can cause severe damage to the meniscus, leading it to require surgical removal. Without the meniscus cushion, the tips of your tibia and femur may begin to rub together, which can lead to chronic knee pain over time and may eventually result in arthritis.

Meniscal implant surgery gives patients another option. The surgeon makes a small cut in the knee before using special instruments and cameras to access the joint space between the femur and tibia. Then, the surgeon will surgically sew the donated meniscus into the knee joint.

Mr Peter Kempshall, Consultant Knee Surgeon said: "Thanks to our amazing theatre and physiotherapy teams for helping to make this new possible. Hopefully many more people will now be able to benefit from this life-changing treatment."

Meniscal transplant is an exciting new treatment that has been shown to both drastically reduce pain and delay the development of arthritis. Introducing this cutting-edge surgery to the people of Gloucestershire has been a high point of my career so far.

Mr Peter Kempshall, Consultant Knee Surgeon

Chief Executive Deborah Lee said: "We are always striving to innovate and improve the experience of our patients. I'm delighted that Gloucestershire is leading the way with this type of surgery, which can help to transform the lives of people with persistent pain following a meniscal tear.

“We are so lucky to benefit from the talent and commitment of surgeons like Mr Kempshall and Mr Dodds; this landmark meniscal transplant shows that we are determined to find new ways to increase the quality of life of our patients while continuing to enhance care for the people of Gloucestershire."

The METEOR2 trial

The team at Gloucestershire Hospitals are also one of 12 centres in the UK and 3 in Australia taking part in a multi-centre international trial, called METEOR2. This trial aims to assess the efficacy of meniscus transplant in both improving pain and reducing arthritis, thus providing further evidence to expand access worldwide.

Further information regarding the METEOR2 trial.

This landmark meniscal transplant shows that we are determined to find new ways to increase the quality of life of our patients while continuing to provide the best care for the people of Gloucestershire

Deborah Lee, Chief Executive