Surgical Information – Procedures
Carticel® Cartilage Reconstruction
What is Carticel® cartilage reconstruction?
Carticel uses a patient's own cartilage cells (called chondrocytes) to treat and repair articular cartilage damage in the knee. Articular cartilage can be damaged through injury or degeneration. These defects often fail to heal on their own, causing pain, loss of function, disability and potential long-term complications such as osteoarthritis.
How is Carticel cartilage reconstruction performed?
The procedure, called autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI), is a two-step process. Using an arthroscope to see inside the knee joint, the surgeon identifies the area of cartilage damage and removes a small sample of healthy cells. These cells are sent to a lab, where they are duplicated over the next four to six weeks. A second procedure is then performed to implant the cultured cells into the joint. By implanting healthy cartilage cells in the traumatized area, the cells often incorporate with the surrounding healthy cartilage to heal the injured area and restore joint function.
Who is a good candidate for this procedure?
Good candidates are physiologically young patients with a normal BMI who have traumatic injuries to the articular cartilage of the knee joint. ACI has not been shown to regenerate cartilage loss resulting from arthritis.
When is ACI recommended?
ACI is typically performed for a full thickness defect on the joint surface of the femoral condyles (the round bony protrusions at the bottom of the femur). The procedure is often used after non-surgical and other treatments have failed.
Proper patient selection is critical, so it is important that each individual is carefully screened by an orthopaedic surgeon specially trained in the ACI procedure to determine the most appropriate treatment option.
What is the recovery time?
Rehabilitation can take as long as six months, so patients must be motivated to follow the protocol. If the procedure is performed on the weight-bearing surface of the knee, patients must be non-weight bearing for at least six weeks. After that, they must undergo a specific physical therapy program to restore full function to the treated area. Although many patients return to an active lifestyle, it's important they have reasonable expectations following surgery.