The FDA recently approved a device developed by MU that will heal previously irreparable and painful knee injuries.
Researchers at MU’s veterinary school are putting an end to painful tears in meniscus muscle of the knee with the development of the BioDuct Meniscal Fixation Device. The meniscus muscle’s irreparability is due to most of it being avascular, meaning that it doesn’t get a blood supply. Therefore, it is unable to repair itself. This new device provides the muscle with the necessary blood supply in order to heal.
The first human surgeries are expected to come in November or December, said James Cook, MU professor of veterinary medicine and one of the developers of the device.
“It is just a matter of manufacturing and logistics at this point,” he said.
Surgeons at the College of Veterinary Medicine performed the surgery on 25 dogs, all of which experienced full or partial healing after a few weeks. MU’s veterinary school is home to the Comparative Orthopaedic Laboratory, which specializes in translational research in orthopaedics, Cook said.
“We typically have 15-20 projects going on in the lab, the majority of these aimed at human orthopaedics, but we always keep the potential benefits to animals in mind,” he said.
The team at the COL has been working with Herb Schwartz, CEO of Schwartz biomedical and patent holder of the product. Schwartz tasked the group with developing both the device and the surgical procedure for it, Cook said.
Cook added that the device is a reponse to a great need: around 1 million meniscal surgeries are done a year in the U.S., and a majority are irreparable leaving the patient in pain.
The meniscus muscle can be torn by twisting the knee or decelerating, and is seen in all age groups. Patients usually faced removal of the muscle. Before knowing the tear has occurred patients may begin to experience swelling, tenderness, fluid build up or knee buckling, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Removal of the muscle leaves the patient without the necessary cushion to prevent two major leg bones, the femur and the tibia, from rubbing together. The meniscus is also intended to bear weight and provide flexibility. Injury and removal of this muscle can lead to arthritis and weak knee function.
The new device will restore full knee function to those who have experienced this injury and minimize any arthritis that would otherwise occur, Cook said.