Purpose: The management of knee pain secondary to meniscal tears with osteoarthritis is limited by the poor inherent healing potential of the meniscus. Previous studies have reported on the benefit of autologous micro-fragmented fat as a therapeutic for various knee pathologies. The goal of this prospective pilot study was to determine the safety and potential treatment effect of micro-fragmented adipose tissue injection for patients with knee pain secondary to osteoarthritis and meniscal tears who have failed conservative management.
Methods: Twenty subjects with knee pain secondary to osteoarthritis with associated meniscal tear after failed conservative management were enrolled in the study. Numeric Pain Scale (NPS) and Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Scale (KOOS) following ultrasound-guided intra-meniscal and intra-articular micro-fragmented adipose tissue injections were examined at three, six and 12 months.
Results: The mean NPS revealed a significant decrease in patient pain at the 1-year time point compared with baseline (5.45 to 2.21, p < .001). Similarly, overall, mean KOOS symptoms significantly improved from 57.7 to 78.2 (p < .001), with all 4 KOOS subscales demonstrating significant improvement at the final one year follow-up. One subject developed uncomplicated cellulitis at the harvest site which was treated with oral antibiotics. Other complications were minor and mostly limited to adipose harvest.
Conclusion: This study demonstrated that micro-fragmented adipose tissue injected directly into a torn meniscus and knee joint using ultrasound guidance represents a safe and potentially efficacious treatment option for patients with knee pain suffering from degenerative arthritis and degenerative meniscal tears. A larger, randomized, controlled trial is warranted to determine efficacy.