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What is meniscal tissue?

All joints have a thin layer of cartilage at the ends of the bones where they meet each other to prevent the bones from fracturing and to allow a smooth movement of the joint.

This white shiny tissue is called "articular cartilage". In each of the knees (but not in any other joint), in addition to the articular cartilage at the ends of the bones, there are two pieces of fibrous tissue called the menisci that cushion the two bone-ends. Each meniscus is a C-shaped pad that is thicker towards the outside of the joint and thinner towards the middle. They are shock-absorbers and help the knee joint to cope with the extreme stresses during everyday activities.

Meniscus Zone
How is meniscal tissue injured?

The menisci are commonly torn as a result of a sporting injury. The lateral meniscus (on the outside edge of the knee) is most frequently injured although the medial meniscus (on the inside edge) may also sometimes be damaged. This kind of injury can become painful and the there may be swelling. It may be difficult to straighten the knee fully.

Meniscal Tear
How is meniscal tear usually treated?

If the symptoms of pain and swelling persist then you may have an X-ray or an MRI scan of the injured knee to confirm the diagnosis. In a small number of cases, where the tear is near the thickest edge of the meniscus, it may be possible to stitch it together and this may be enough for a permanent repair. However in the majority of cases the damaged portion of the meniscus has to be removed.

In a small number of cases if the damage is extensive then the whole of the meniscus must be removed. This will usually reduce the pain and swelling. However the larger the amount of meniscal tissue that is removed the greater the chance you will have of developing osteoarthritis in the operated knee after a few years. Once osteoarthritis has become established it is generally an irreversible process and may mean you have to have your knee replaced with a prosthesis (an artificial knee) at a relatively young age.

What are adult stem cells and where do they come from?

Adult stem cells are found in all of us. They are non-specialised cells that can grow extensively and can be turned into many different kinds of specialised cell. The specialised cells help to maintain the different organs of our body. The bone marrow is a rich source of adult stem cells that can be used to heal different parts of the body.

How might stem cells be used to repair torn meniscal tissue?

Azellon’s meniscal repair technology will combine your own bone marrow stem cells with a special membrane that helps to deliver the cells into the injured site. Because your own stem cells are used they cannot be rejected by your immune system. There are 4 stages involved in the treatment:

Azellon Process
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