Restore Function to Your Damaged Joint with Cartilage Restoration

Have you been told the cartilage in your knee or other joint is too badly damaged for you to continue with your former active lifestyle or sport? There could be hope for you in the form of cartilage restoration.  

At The Institute for Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine in San Francisco, California, Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht can help assess whether you’re a good candidate for cartilage transplantation. If so, it’s a lengthy process, but it’s one that could restore full function and mobility.

Articular cartilage restoration

Articular cartilage is what makes your joints function smoothly. The cartilage protects bones from scraping together. When there is damage to the cartilage (chondral lesions) or the cartilage and bone (osteochondral lesions), your joint may catch, pop, and grind, and you can have intense pain. 

Cartilage doesn’t regenerate spontaneously like muscle or skin cells do. Damaged cartilage, such as from osteoarthritis, is what typically causes a patient to get a joint replacement, due to pain and loss of mobility. However, replacement joints have a limited lifespan, so younger patients usually end up needing their knee or hip redone at some point.

Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI) is a proven technique for regenerating cartilage through the implantation of cartilage cells. It’s highly recommended for patients who have sustained severe knee damage but who are much younger than the average joint replacement candidate.  

The ACI process

There are several steps to the ACI process

First, the preparation phase:

Dr. Halbrecht images the joint interior using radiography and/or MRIs, and then accesses the joint arthroscopically for a full evaluation. He then harvests cartilage tissue from a non-weightbearing area, and sends the tissue samples to the lab for cell extraction and cloning.

Second, the implantation phase:

Dr. Halbrecht makes an incision to access the lesion, and debrides the damaged cartilage to expose healthy tissue. He prepares a collagen membrane patch and positions it to cover the cartilage implantation area. Dr. Halbrecht implants the cells under the membrane, on top of the cartilage being repaired, and then seals the patch with a serum made from your own plasma.

After implantation, you’ll have to stay completely off the limb for at least six weeks, while going through a range of motion exercises in a machine that moves your repaired joint precisely. In six months to a year, your recovery can be considered complete.

Success of ACI

ACI has a greater than 90% success rate among good candidates. Two-thirds or more of active athletes are able to return to their preferred sport at their former competitive level. 

Think ACI could be the answer to your joint problem? Want to know if you’re a good candidate? You can request an appointment with Dr.Jeffrey Halbrecht at our office by calling 415-233-7996, or schedule online with our convenient booking system.

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