KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia achieved another notch in sports science when Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) successfully implanted a synthetic meniscus with the hope of repairing a man's badly damaged knee, a feat the hospital said was second in Asia after Hong Kong.
Orthopaedic specialist Dr Siti Hawa Tahir said the synthetic meniscus served as a temporary scaffold to stimulate the knee to grow a new meniscus, while the implant itself would disintegrate after four years.
The meniscus is a rubbery disc that cushions the knee as it moves under load, such as when lifting heavy objects or running, making meniscus tear a common knee injury.
Doctors say most types of tears are not repairable since only the peripheral third of the meniscus receives blood supply, which is essential for tissue repair.
According to HKL Orthopaedic and Traumatology department head Datuk Dr Fazir Mohamad, when it comes to severe meniscus tear, the damaged part is usually removed, but this leads to early osteoarthritis in young people.
The new approach could offer a better option to those who suffered a severe tear, he said.
The man on the receiving end of this new way of repairing meniscus is an officer with the Federal Reserve Unit, Kpl Adisura Syafriee Abdullah, 36.
Kpl Adisura fell on his left knee during a football game in 2010 but continued with playing and running. Last year, he heard a popping sound from his knee before it started to swell.
Dr Siti Hawa said Kpl Adisura's treatment was extensive because his injury had been left untreated for far too long and his left knee looked like it belonged to a 60-year-old man.
A team of four specialists and eight other medical personnel took six hours on Sept 26 to complete the alignment procedure, implant the synthetic meniscus, as well as to reconstruct the damaged cartilage and ligament on Kpl Adisura.
Dr Siti Hawa said the next stage for him now was to undergo proper rehabilitation.
Kpl Adisura should be able to walk six weeks after the surgery and run in four to six months, as well as engage in all forms of sports a year later.
"As the country moves towards a developed nation status and has athletes competing at the highest levels, knee injuries tend to be more complex and require highly skilled treatment," Dr Fazir said.
"We will continue to lead in this area and provide training for those who want to specialise in this area," he said.