Knee Cartilage Replacement
In people who suffer from knee osteoarthritis, it is evident that the pain caused is due to depleted cartilage layers between the joints.
Knee cartilage replacement
is an evolving and emerging field in orthopedics that aims at providing relief to these patients. Instead of going for a joint replacement, there are surgical techniques that can actually repair the damaged cartilage.
Let us look at these techniques.
Knee Cartilage Replacement:
Cartilage layers exist at the point where the ends of two bones meet, which we call a joint. The normal motion and flexibility of our body parts is enabled by these joints due to the presence of a healthy cartilage layer known as
Depleted hyaline leads to rubbing of the bones causing pain and a decreased range of motion. Osteoarthritis causes depletion of the cartilage and the vice-versa, i.e depleted hyaline can also lead to osteoarthritis.
So, surgical techniques are now in place that can help stimulate the growth of hyaline between the joints.
Surgical Techniques for Hyaline Stimulation
: These surgical techniques are beneficial especially for young and middle-aged people who have only suffered a single injury. In older people with multiple injuries or lesions, the benefits can be short lived.
The primary aim of microfracture is healing the joint. Healing process in our body can only start with the supply of blood. For this to happen in the damaged joints, doctors use an instrument called an awl to drill holes in the joint beneath the cartilage. This triggers the healing process allowing blood to reach this area.
With the supply of blood, the growth of cartilage is stimulated due to the supply of new cells in the blood that reaches this region.
The process of drilling also creates the same scenario as in a microfracture. Drilling which is done with the help of an arthroscope using wires is also used to create small holes in the bone under the cartilage thus, starting the healing process.
This process is also similar to the above two and uses an arthroscope except that it uses burrs rather than wires for drilling holes into the joint.
Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation:
This is a two-tier process-
- the first stage involves the growth of new cartilage cells which is done using a healthy cartilage region from the patient
- after growing the cells for 3-5 weeks in the laboratory, these cells are injected into the damaged region by preparing a cartilage defect.
Osteochondral Allograft Transplantation:
An allograft procedure is used if the cartilage defect cannot be repaired with the help of an autograft.
Other than the above mentioned techniques that can be used for
knee cartilage replacement
, stem cell therapy and tissue engineering (which is still being researched) can also be useful.