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Cartilage repair and transplantation is relatively new in the United States orthopaedic community.  It has been used for years in other countries.  The principle of this new procedure is quite simple. Normal cartilage cells are harvested during a smaller arthroscopic procedure when a single articular cartilage defect, usually in the knee, is identified by the surgeon. These cells are then sent to the Genzyme lab in Boston, Mass., where they grow for several weeks. Then, through a very large incision (not arthroscopic), the new cells are placed back into the defect and sealed by a layer of tissue from the leg bone (tibia). This second procedure may require hospitalization for one to two days. Weight bearing activities are restricted for a period before extensive rehabilitation begins.

Cartilage repair is quite a new concept to most orthopaedic surgeons and the company growing the cells and gathering the data in Boston does not allow physicians to use their services without specific on site training in the Massachusetts laboratory.

The procedure is quite extensive and has many limitations; thus SportsMed wants the patient to understand the entire workings of this procedure.  Please see Cartilage Repair and Transplantation under the Education section of this website.


Eric W. Janssen, M.D.
Troy A. Layton, M.D.

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