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Minced Cartilage Encourages New Growth in Knee

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By Kent Steinriede
Outpatient Surgery Magazine
April 14, 2009

Orthopedic surgeons at 40 North American surgical facilities are conducting clinical trials on a new method of regrowing damaged cartilage in the knee to treat osteoarthritis.

The new procedure, known as the cartilage autograft implantation system (CAIS), is a variation on the current autologous chondrocyte implantation method, which uses whole pieces of the patient’s own cartilage. In CAIS, healthy cartilage is collected from the joint and grated, then applied to a bioabsorbable scaffold and implanted in the knee during a single surgery.

One benefit of the new procedure is that a small amount of minced cartilage cells combined with the scaffold can cover an area larger than an intact autograft of cartilage. Because less cartilage needs to be harvested, the procedure is less expensive, less traumatic and requires little planning ahead of time, as compared to donor allografts and other methods of cartilage regeneration, says Brian Cole, MD, MBA, a professor of orthopedics, anatomy and biology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and head of its Cartilage Restoration Center.

The clinical trials follow a 2006 study that determined the procedure’s safety, says Dr. Cole. Research sites across the country are currently seeking patients to participate in upcoming trials to compare the process with the previously accepted method of microfracturing bone to enact cartilage growth, the results of which are generally weaker than a patient’s original cartilage.

Reprinted by permission Copyright © 2009, Herrin Publishing Partners, LP