A new technique called cartilage restoration is changing the outlook for young, active patients with certain knee injuries. Cartilage damage can be painful and often leads to a diagnosis of osteoarthritis — and joint replacement — years later. Until recently, treatment options have been limited.
“Cartilage restoration takes defects in knees and tries to restore them to normal use,” says David Flanigan, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedics. “Our ultimate goal is to prevent or delay the onset of osteoarthritis.”
Dr. Flanigan performs several cartilage restoration procedures, including one called autologous chondrocyte implantation that uses the patient’s own tissue, through the OSU's Wexner Medical Center new Cartilage Restoration Program, one of a few such programs in the country. “The advantage of using this technique is that you can restore normal cartilage using the patient’s own tissue, which is longer lasting and regenerating, and it can be used for large lesions,” he says.
Are you a candidate for ACI (Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation)? Click here for more information.
Dr. Flanigan is also involved in clinical trials for other cartilage restoration procedures, including one that grows the patient’s cartilage in a collagen scaffold, a tiny mesh frame that shapes the cartilage to the patient’s need. He is optimistic about the future applications of next-generation techniques.
“The best thing is to see how dramatically it changes a patient’s life,” he says. “They have been living in pain and they are now pain free and can get back to activities they could not do for a long time.”