Surgeons at a Clydebank hospital have performed the first knee transplant on a patient in Scotland.

The meniscal transplant, conducted using an innovative keyhole procedure, took place at the Golden Jubilee to implant donor cartilage into the patient's knee.

University National Hospital orthopaedic consultants Christopher Gee and Jon Clarke, alongside Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) orthopaedic consultant Simon Spencer, worked together to carry out the procedure.

Mr Gee said: “We are very excited to be able to offer this surgery, as it is the first time this technique has been carried out in Scotland.

“The procedure tries to restore the cushioning effect of the meniscus, in turn preserving the joints until later in life. There is increasing evidence that it can help with symptoms and reduce the chance of the patient developing arthritis, which can be very difficult to treat in younger patients.

“What we know is that 70 to 80 per cent of people who have a meniscal transplant see an improvement of their symptoms.

“There is a lot of evidence to support good functional outcomes, so we’re really looking to be able to provide this procedure for many more people from across Scotland.”

Each knee has two menisci, a c-shaped cartilage in the knee that acts like a shock absorber between the shinbone and the thighbone.

The meniscus can tear due to trauma or overuse. If the meniscus is so badly damaged that it cannot be repaired, persistent knee pain or osteoarthritis can develop, potentially leading to the need for a total knee replacement.

To conduct the transplantation, surgeons sourced a matching deceased donor meniscal graft from the United States. Using a camera as a guide, the new cartilage was implanted through a keyhole procedure under general anaesthetic.

Quality of life

Christine Divers, director of national elective services at NHS Golden Jubilee, said: “NHS Golden Jubilee always looks to innovate and improve the patient experience.

“We are one of Europe’s largest centres for planned arthroplasty, performing around 4,000 joint replacements each year - around 25 per cent of all joint replacements in Scotland.

“Although this is the first time this technique has been used in Scotland and the operation is not yet being widely performed, it is clear this surgery has a real place for people with persistent pain following a meniscal tear.

“This landmark meniscal transplant shows that we are always seeking to progress and find new ways to increase the quality of life of our patients while continuing to enhance care for the people of Scotland.”