Research Paper Title
Likelihood of Return to Duty Is Low After Meniscal Allograft Transplantation in an Active-duty Military Population.
Meniscal allograft transplantation (MAT) is considered a viable surgical treatment option in the symptomatic, postmeniscectomy knee and as a concomitant procedure with ACL revision and articular cartilage repair.
Although promising outcomes have recently been reported in active and athletic populations, MAT has not been well-studied in the high-demand military population.
- What proportion of active-duty military patients who underwent MAT returned to full, unrestricted duty?
- What demographic and surgical variables, if any, correlated with return to full, unrestricted duty?
Between 2005 and 2015, three fellowship-trained sports surgeons (TMD, SJS, BDO) performed 110 MAT procedures in active-duty military patients, of which 95% (104 patients) were available for follow-up at a minimum 2 years (mean 2.8 ± SD 1.1 year).
During the study period, indications for MAT generally included unicompartmental pain and swelling in a postmeniscectomised knee and as a concomitant procedure when a meniscal-deficient compartment was associated with either an ACL revision reconstruction or cartilage repair.
Demographic and surgical variables were collected and analysed.
The primary endpoints were the decision for permanent profile activity restrictions and military duty termination by a medical board. The term “medical board” implies termination of military service because of medical reasons.
The researchers elected to set statistical significance at p < 0.001 to reduce the potential for spurious statistical findings in the setting of a relatively small sample size.
46% (48 of 104) of eligible patients had permanent profile activity restrictions and 50% (52 of 104) eventually had their military duty terminated by a military board.
Only 20% (21 of 104) had neither permanent profile activity restrictions nor medical-board termination and were subsequently able to return to full duty, and only 13% (13 of 104) continued unrestricted military service beyond 2 years after surgery.
Age, gender, tobacco use, and BMI did not correlate with return to full duty.
Combat arms soldiers were less likely to have permanent profile activity restrictions (odds ratio 4.76 [95% confidence interval 1.93 to 11.8]; p = 0.001) and were more likely to return to full duty than soldiers in support roles (OR 0.24 [95% CI 0.09 to 0.65]; p = 0.005), although these findings did not reach statistical significance.
Officers were more likely to return to full duty than enlisted soldiers at more than 2 years after surgery (OR 17.44 [95% CI 4.56 to 66.65]; p < 0.001). No surgical variables correlated with return-to-duty endpoints.
Surgeons should be aware of the low likelihood of return to military duty at more than 2 years after MAT and counsel patients accordingly.
Based on this study, MAT does not appear to be compatible with continued unrestricted military duty for most patients.
Antosh, I.J., Cameron, K.L., Marsh, N.A., Posner, M.A., DeBerardino, T.M., Svoboda, S.J. & Owens, B.D. (2020) Likelihood of Return to Duty Is Low After Meniscal Allograft Transplantation in an Active-duty Military Population. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 8(4), pp.722-730. doi: 10.1097/CORR.0000000000000915.