Orthopedic surgeons are testing a new way to fix damaged knees.
The standard treatment, micro fracture, involves making small holes in the bone, which will create a hybrid cartilage that may break down over time. With the new therapy , doctors use a patient’s own cartilage to make the repairs.
Bjorn Borrell isn’t quite ready to play basketball yet, but a few months after the NeoCart procedure, he’s feeling strong. He said, “I have no pain. From what I’m doing right now in PT, everything is fine. The knee’s not swollen. I have great mobility in it. I can walk. I can do hiking.”
He had a small area of damage, or a pothole, in the articular cartilage of his knee, that’s the shiny tissue between the femur and shin bone that allows smooth joint movement.
Bjorn’s was causing pain and swelling. It sent him to Robert Grumet, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Los Angeles, California, who’s running a trial on the NeoCart autologous tissue implant.
“We are harvesting their cartilage and growing it in a lab and then reimplanting that cartilage in a patient where they’re missing a piece of cartilage,” detailed Dr. Grumet.
After the cartilage cells grow in the lab for six weeks, doctors trim the new tissue implant to fit in the hole and secure it with a bio adhesive.
“If we can recreate the normal anatomy that the function will improve, the patient’s long-term outcome could improve, we could delay the onset of arthritis in that knee long term,” said Dr. Grumet.
Bjorn still has some work to do to get his knee to fully function, but he and Dr. Grumet agree he’s well on the way.
The NeoCart clinical trial will include 245 patients and is 75 percent full. Candidates must be between 18 and 59 years old and have pain in one knee.The only site in Pennsylvania is the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. If you want to see if you qualify, call 855-552-5633.