Arthroscopic meniscus allograft transplantation in male professional soccer players: A 36-month follow-up study

Maurilio Marcacci, Giulio Maria Marcheggiani Muccioli, Alberto Grassi, Margherita Ricci, Kyriakos Tsapralis, Gianni Nanni, Tommaso Bonanzinga, Stefano Zaffagnini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Meniscus allograft transplantation (MAT) is an option for symptomatic patients who have undergone subtotal meniscectomy and can potentially result in pain relief and increased function. Hypothesis: Professional soccer players would benefit from arthroscopic MAT in terms of pain, knee function, and return to play at 36-month follow-up. Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: Twelve male patients who had undergone MAT (6 medial, 6 lateral) were prospectively evaluated at 12- and 36-month follow-up. The mean age at the time of surgery was 24.5 6 3.6 years (range, 19-29 years), and the mean time from meniscectomy to surgery was 37 6 31 months (range, 2-82 months). The transplantation was performed in patients who had undergone subtotal meniscectomy using an arthroscopic bone plug-free technique with a single tibial tunnel plus ''all-inside'' meniscus sutures. The anterior horn of the transplanted meniscus was sutured to the capsule and to the remnant of the anterior horn of the native meniscus. Seven patients (58%) underwent concurrent procedures. All patients were evaluated at follow-up by the Tegner, Lysholm, International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) subjective, IKDC objective, Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), and visual analog scale (VAS) for pain scores. Information regarding rehabilitation, return to play, and return to official competition was recorded. Results: Eleven of the 12 patients (92%) returned to play soccer. At 36-month follow-up, 9 patients (75%) were still playing as professionals (Tegner score of 10), whereas 2 patients (17%) were playing as semiprofessionals (Tegner score of 9). The mean time from surgery to the end of rehabilitation was 7.5 6 2 months, whereas the mean time to official competition was 10.5 6 2.6 months. Patients demonstrated significant improvements on the median Tegner score from 8 (interquartile range, 3-10) to 10 (interquartile range, 9-10) (P = .0391); the mean Lysholm score from 67 6 14 to 92 6 10 (P = .0021); the mean IKDC subjective score from 61.8 6 16.3 to 85.3 6 9.8 (P = .0026); the mean IKDC objective score from 1 A, 8 B, 1 C, and 2 D to 7 A and 5 B (P = .0077); the mean WOMAC score from 77.1 6 15.9 to 92.2 6 9.1 (P = .0242); and the mean VAS score from 61 6 16 to 29 6 32 (P = .0029) at 12-month follow-up. There were no significant improvements in these outcomes at 36-month follow-up. One patient developed a knee infection after MAT plus anterior cruciate ligament allograft reconstruction. This complication was successfully treated, but the patient stopped playing soccer (Tegner score of 3 at 36-month follow-up), and this was considered a failure (8%). Conclusion: Arthroscopic MAT in professional soccer players allowed a return to play at the same level (Tegner score of 10) in 75% of the cases at 36-month follow-up.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-388
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • arthroscopic surgery
  • knee
  • meniscus allograft transplantation
  • professional soccer players

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Arthroscopic meniscus allograft transplantation in male professional soccer players: A 36-month follow-up study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this