Cartilage restoration is an approach to regenerating the joint surface and avoiding knee replacement surgery. Cartilage is the covering on the ends of the bones in each joint – like the tread on a car tire. It can be damaged by injury or with normal wear and tear. Activity-related knee pain and swelling can occur as it becomes more worn. In severe cases, the entire surface can wear out. Restoring means to grow or replace missing cartilage – a biologic knee replacement.
There are several approaches to cartilage restoration. The first was a procedure called a micro fracture, developed by Dr. Richard Steadman, my mentor, which is able to grow a cartilage-like surface on the bone with a simple outpatient arthroscopic procedure. I have performed 1000’s of these with promising results. In some cases cartilage can be moved from one area of the knee to another. Young cartilage cells can be implanted into defective areas. For large lesions, cartilage can be transplanted from one area of the knee or from a donor into a defective cartilage area. With all of these, the normal smooth surface of the joint is restored.
On the cutting edge of cartilage restoration, and of major personal research interest to myself, are several new technologies to encourage cartilage growth. First, cartilage cells can be obtained from the knee and cultured, or grown, in a lab, and then re implanted to produce a new cartilage surface from one’s own cells. Better than a stem cell procedure, these are the actual cells that grow and maintain a normal joint surface. There are several cutting edge approaches that attempt to produce a better cartilage surface. These are currently in the FDA trial stage. In my office, we are actively involved in this type of research. I encourage you to contact me for more information.
I have been interested in, and studying cartilage restoration and repair for the past 30 years. Today we often call this biologic knee replacement or regenerative orthopedics. I have broad experience in this approach as well as traditional approaches to knee conditions. Please ask questions if you are interested or schedule and appointment to see of cartilage restoration is right for you.