Li-ya Zhu and Lan Li contributed equally to this work and should be considered co-first author
Artificial meniscal implants can be used to replace a severely injured meniscus after meniscectomy and restore the normal functionality of a knee joint. The aim of this paper was to design porous meniscal implants and assess their biomechanical properties.
Finite element simulations were conducted on eight different cases including intact healthy knees, knee joints with solid meniscal implants, and knee joints with meniscal implants with two types of triply periodic minimal surfaces. Compression stresses, shear stresses, and characteristics of stress concentrated areas were evaluated using an axial compressive load of 1150 N and an anterior load of 350 N.
Compared to the solid meniscal implant, the proposed porous meniscal implant produced lower levels of compression and shear stresses on the cartilage, which facilitated the cartilage to retain a semilunar characteristic similar to the natural meniscus. Moreover, both compression and shear stresses on the artificial cartilage were found to be sensitive to the pore properties of the meniscal implant. The meniscal implants with primitive surfaces (porosity: 41%) showed a better performance in disseminating stresses within the knee joint.
The present commercial meniscal implant has the problem of equivalent biomechanical properties compared to natural menisci. The main advantage of the proposed porous structure is that it can be used to prevent excessive compression and shear stresses on the articular cartilages. This structure has advantages both in terms of mechanics and printability, which can be beneficial for future clinical applications.