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KODE Medical Focus: Cartilage Regeneration

KODE — One out of four adults suffer from chronic knee pain, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Many of those patients could benefit from cartilage regeneration surgery.

“So basically if someone has knee pain, what we do is evaluate them with an MRI. And sometimes we discover that they have a problem with their cartilage, which is the surface of the knee joint,” said Dr. Thomas Sanders, Orthopedic Surgeon.

And when there’s a problem with cartilage, that patient may be a candidate for cartilage regeneration surgery.

“We take a biopsy or a sample of their cartilage cells. We take those cells, we send them to one of our labs, and they grow those cartilage cells. So that at a second surgery, we can go back in and replace and regenerate that damaged cartilage with their own cartilage cells.”

After surgery, it’s up to those cartilage cells to grow.

“If the cartilage cells grow successfully, which happens about 90 to 95% of the time, it’s almost as if the injury never happened in the first place,” continued Dr. Sanders.

It’s a big improvement from earlier options.

“Previously, what would happen is you may have surgery, they may smooth out the damage but there was no way to to reverse it. Then came using cadaver cartilage, cadaver tissues to go in and replace that cartilage now we know that tends not to last as long because it’s a graft or donor tissue.”

The procedure works best on patients with a specific area of damage, but not general cases like arthritis.

“The goal of this surgery really is to restore the knee and specifically the cartilage back to where it was before the injury,” Dr. Sanders said.

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