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Development of a Hybrid Polymer Fiber/Collagen Sponge Meniscus Scaffold

Aaron r. Merriam
B.S., University of Rochester - 2005

Thesis Advisor Charles J. Gatt, Jr., M.D.
Graduate Program in Biomedical Engineering

Clinical Academic Building (CAB), Room 3404
New Brunswick

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
2:30 p.m.


Once thought to be vestigial tissue and routinely resected, the menisci of the knee are crucial components to joint protection, shock absorption, stabilization, and lubrication. Even today, partial meniscectomies are one of the most commonly performed orthopaedic surgeries, with an estimated 1.7 million carried out each year worldwide. As a result of the menisci’s reduced healing potential, removal of damaged tissue is often the only possible course of action to offer symptomatic relief. However, removal of significant portions of the meniscus has been shown to alter the transmission loads across the knee joint, induce joint space narrowing, and cause progressive alterations in the articular cartilage that lead to osteoarthritis. Those with severe meniscal deficiencies do not have many options other than allowing these degenerative changes in the joint to occur. Unfortunately, these changes can become extremely painful, debilitating, and in some cases severe enough to warrant total knee replacement. While current research into meniscal replacement with allograft tissue or engineered designs have shown promising short-term results, there are still significant issues that need to be addressed before a long term solution can become clinically relevant. Thus, no ‘gold-standard’ meniscus replacement currently exists. This Study will design, fabricate, and investigate a potential meniscus replacement scaffold that can: 1) mimic compressive properties of the meniscus, 2) convert compressive loads into circumferential tensile loads, 3) increase the contact area in the joint space while reducing high concentrated stresses, 4) encourage cell infiltration, extracellular matrix production, and organized tissue deposition while degrading at a practical rate, and 5) have a protective effect on the articular surfaces such that degenerative changes associated with meniscectomies are reduced.

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