A break-through operation could help patients suffering from cartilage damage or osteoarthritis get back on their feet in just eight weeks
Arevolutionary ‘grow-yourown’ knee implant could help patients with crippling cartilage damage walk again in just eight weeks, say doctors.
The treatment uses an implant grown from the patient’s own healthy cells, which is glued into the damaged knee.
Unlike existing cartilage repair systems, which take months to grow, the new technique needs only two weeks to obtain enough cells for the operation.
The technique – known as the CaReS cartilage regeneration system – creates a perfect three-dimensional implant that fits the shape of the damaged cartilage, which means less stitching and a faster recovery.
Doctors hope the system could help hundreds of patients aged between 20 and 50 who have osteoarthritis or cartilage damage.
Shivaun McGuckin, a 38-yearold teacher, last week became the first person to have the 3,000-pound operation.
It has already been used on more than 1,000 patients in the European continent.
Mrs McGuckin, who lives with husband Damien and sons Tadhg (aged ten) and Conn (six), pulled out of training for her first marathon in May after her knee ‘locked’ when she bent down.
“I’ve always been sporty – running, playing rugby and hockey, and going to the gym,” she said. “I was training hard for the marathon but, a month beforehand, the pain was too much.”
Mrs McGuckin found everyday activities increasingly difficult and stopped exercising because of the pain. “It was increasingly painful,” she added. “I couldn’t run around after the children and I need to be active for my job. The cartilage had gone down to the bone and taken some bone with it.”
Conventional cartilage repair failed and she faced a bone graft before doctors could have attempted to repair her worn-out cartilage.
She feared a long wait for a knee replacement, as doctors normally postpone such major surgery until patients reach their mid-40s, or older. Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Amit Chandratreya, who operated on Mrs McGuckin, described the new system as “much more convenient’ than older techniques, which could take up to six months. Now Mrs McGuckin is hoping to get back to a sporting life. She said, “I feel very optimistic. It really looks as though I’ll be able to return to all the normal activities for my age.”