Smooth Solutions for Damaged Knee CartilageThere's new hope for those who suffer knee pain. If damage to the cartilage is your problem, this procedure may be for you. Doctors report more than 5,000 cases of cartilage cell transplantation. You can be your own donor, too.
The first operations of this type were done in 1994. Since that time, methods have improved. Doctors no longer have to cut the knee open to insert the cartilage. Now, they can use an arthroscope to complete the operation. The arthroscope is a slender instrument with a tiny TV camera on the end. It allows the surgeon to see inside the joint and perform the operation.
Once inside the joint, the surface is cleared of any torn or loose cartilage. The bone is shaped and prepared for the transplant. Cartilage cells called chondrocytes are mixed with a gel. The mixture is spread on a small piece of material called a fleece. The fleece is anchored down to the bone with stitches. The stitches are absorbed by the body and don't have to be removed.
This new arthroscopic method of implanting cartilage has fewer problems than the open approach. Doctors report that with careful rehab, the patient won't lose knee motion. There are fewer and smaller scars with arthroscopic surgery. Best of all, patients have less pain after the operation.
Christoph Erggelet, MD, PhD, et al. The Arthroscopic Implantation of Autologous Chondrocytes For the Treatment of Full-Thickness Cartilage Defects of the Knee Joint. In Arthroscopy. January 2003. Vol. 19. No. 1. Pp. 108-110.
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