The meniscus is a C-shaped cushion of cartilage in the knee joint. When people talk about torn cartilage in the knee, they are usually referring to torn meniscus.
If a meniscus is so badly damaged it cannot be repaired, it may need to be removed or trimmed out. Without the meniscus cushion, persistent knee pain and arthritis can develop.
For many older patients with this condition, a knee joint replacement might be the right option. But active people younger than 55 may be eligible for an alternative treatment: meniscal transplant surgery.
A meniscal transplant replaces the damaged meniscus with donor cartilage.
Meniscal transplants are not right for everyone. If you already have arthritis in your knee, a meniscal transplant may not help you. But for a select group of people, meniscal transplants can offer significant pain relief.
Three bones meet to form your knee joint: your thighbone (femur), shinbone (tibia), and kneecap (patella). Your patella sits in front of the joint to provide some protection.
Normal knee anatomy
The ends of your thighbone and shinbone are covered with articular cartilage. This slippery substance helps your knee bones glide smoothly across each other as you bend or straighten your leg.
Two wedge-shaped pieces of meniscal cartilage act as "shock absorbers" between your thighbone and shinbone. Different from articular cartilage, the meniscus is tough and rubbery to help cushion and stabilize the joint. Each knee has two menisci, one on each side of the joint