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Not Ready for a Knee Replacement? Try a Cartilage Transplant

Not Ready for a Knee Replacement? Try a Cartilage Transplant

Many serious injuries to the knee joint lead to discussion of a partial or complete knee replacement. However, there are cases that can be just as effectively treated by replacing damaged cartilage in the knee with cloned cells created from samples obtained from your knee tissue.

Orthopedic surgeons, San Francisco-based Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht and Dr. Ephraim Dickinson at The Institute for Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine (IASM) in San Francisco, California, can evaluate your knee injury and tell you if you’re a good candidate for a cartilage transplant, or if it’s time to discuss arthroscopic knee surgery or a partial or full knee replacement instead.

Knee cartilage injury

The cartilage in your knee protects your joint. In the case of articular cartilage, this white, tough material separates the femur from the tibia. When the cartilage is damaged, the bones in the knee have increased friction, causing pain, weakness, and instability.

Cartilage doesn’t regenerate on its own. However, it’s possible to harvest cartilage from the knee and clone the cells in a lab, creating a solution that can be transplanted back into the knee. These healthy cartilage cells allow cartilage to be regrown inside the knee, without requiring a donor or autologous graft.

Many different types of sports can lead to knee cartilage injuries, including football, soccer, and skiing. If you’ve been injured on the slopes, a ski doctor in San Francisco, such as Dr. Halbrecht or Dr. Dickinson may recommend either knee replacement or a cartilage transplant among your viable options. 

A San Francisco sports medicine surgeon explains articular cartilage implantation

Articular cartilage implantation is a viable alternative to knee replacement. Our office uses an arthroscopic method to remove samples from your injured knee. We send the samples to a specialized laboratory (Genzyme Tissue Repair), where they’re cultured and cloned.

After four weeks, we receive your new cartilage cells from the lab and implant them into your joint through a small incision. We use a patch made of the lining of your bone to cover the joint defect, and a special “glue” created from your own blood serum to seal the patch over the implanted cartilage cells. 

The success rate for cartilage transplant is very high; more than 90% of patients report satisfactory results regardless of whether or not they return to competitive athletics, and 70% of athletes attain their pre-injury level of fitness in their chosen sport within just two years. 

Are you Looking to consult with a San Francisco Orthopedic Surgeon?

To get your knee evaluated by a sports medicine surgeon in San Francisco, and to learn more about cartilage transplantation, get in touch with IASM. Call us at 415-233-7996, or book a consultation online

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