Orteq develops biodegradable scaffold for meniscus surgery

Doctors can give athletes who undergo meniscus surgery the ability to return to their active life faster with much less pain using a biodegradable scaffold in the knee.

Orthopaedic medical technology company Orteq claims that these are the results so far of patients implanted with its scaffold product dubbed Actifit. 

The device has been designed specifically for meniscus surgery, the most popular orthopaedic procedure. According to Orteq, surgeons treat one-and-a-half million meniscal injuries each year in Europe and the US alone.

In these procedures, surgeons try and remove as little meniscus tissue as possible. This is because the meniscus, which is made up of two half-moon-shaped fibrocartilaginous structures in the knee, acts as shock absorbers. Any lost tissue will affect load distribution in the knee and this causes pain and cartilage damage.

Orteq’s scaffold, which is made of a biodegradable and biocompatible polyurethane, is described as a porous cellular matrix. After damaged meniscus tissue is removed, the scaffold is put in place. Over time, cells and blood vessels will grow into the porous material and the scaffold will start filling up with tissue.

Eva-Lisa Heinrichs, chief medical officer at Orteq, said that the resulting scar tissue that forms will attain the characteristics of a meniscus and give patients the pain relief they need. She added that the polyurethane scaffold will degrade in the body after five to six years.

The company began a clinical trial led by Prof Rene Verdonk, head of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology at the University Hospital in Gent, Belgium, with 52 patients in 2007.

Since then, the product has received a CE mark and, according to Heinrichs, the company has achieved close to 500 implantations across Europe.