We need healthy cartilage for smooth pain-free joint movement. Cartilage however doesn’t repair itself well, unlike bone, skin, or muscle. A new technology under study may provide a much better solution to current methods.

We need healthy cartilage for smooth pain-free joint movement. Cartilage however doesn’t repair itself well, unlike bone, skin, or muscle. A new technology under study may provide a much better solution to current methods by growing the patients own cartilage in a lab..
Photo Credit: via cbc

New technology into joint cartilage repair


Humans like to push their limits, and often that results in damage to joints. This can be through sports, work, accidents, or arthritic disease.

Cartilage is the pad that allows smooth joint operation and keeps bones separated from rubbing against each other. But cartilage doesn’t really repair itself very well at all and when damage happens, there’s been mitigated success in surgery to correct it.

A new process has great promise and is about to begin clinical trials in several locations including London Ontario.

Dr Alan Getgood (MD, FRCS) is involved in this new technology. He is a professor at the Schulich Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario, and consulting orthopaedic surgeon at th Fowler-Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, both located in London Ontario.

DR Alan Getgood (MD, FRCS) professor Western University, and orthopaedic surgeon
DR Alan Getgood (MD, FRCS) professor Western University, and orthopaedic surgeon

When cartilage is damaged, unlike bone, or skin or muscle, it doesn’t heal well, or at all in some cases. A damaged cartilage also often causes pain as the joints move and the irritation causes swelling.

Typically an injection is given to reduce the swelling and pain. In other cases, a surgical process attempts to get the bone to create cartilage, while another process uses cartilage from a cadaver. While the injections certainly help, they do not repair the damage. The cadaver cartilage provides good results, but suitable donor cartilage is difficult to obtain.

The new technique has been under development for quite some time, but holds great promise.

It involves taking a small biopsy of the patient’s own cartilage, and then certain cells (chondrocytes) ,are used to actually grow healthy new cartilage which can then be inserted back into the patient.

Basic concept of chondrocyte cartilage process © A. Oseni et al- intechopen.com

Besides being healthy new cartilage, it is also the patient’s own cells so there is no chance of rejection, and the time frame for the cartilage availability is a known factor, which is not the case with a cadaver donor cartilage.

While stem cell research continues with promising results in other areas of medicine, Dr Getgood notes that with cartilage, the problem is to get the stem cells to create the specific cells desired. He says efforts in creating cartilage have not been entirely successful.

Dr Alan Getgood performing surgery 2014.
Dr Alan Getgood performing surgery 2014. © UWO

Although theoretically very promising, practical usage could still by some years away. The clinical trial in this new technology is set to begin and trial patients will be followed for three years to determine results.

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8 comments on “New technology into joint cartilage repair
  1. Avatar Lisa Schmid says:

    Hi, I’m looking into this. I have had surgery on my knee due to a meniscus tear and cartilage was removed a few years ago, but my injury has returned just recently. Where can I ger more information about this??

  2. Avatar Michelle Price says:

    Would like more information

  3. I’m very interested in talking to someone about this procedure. I cut hair for a living my knees are a mess. Tired of being in constant pain

  4. Avatar Jill Mench says:

    I would like more information on this new technology for knee replacement. Is it by chance available in Toronto? Is it covered by OHIP? If not what is the cost involved? I have been advised to have double knee replacement surgery, and I am not so keen on it.

  5. Avatar Colleen seibert says:

    I am interested in this fir my knees. Can you give me information on who to contact.

  6. Avatar Sean Dunne says:

    It has been available in europe since 1987. Why is canada behind on this

  7. Avatar Crystal Watt says:

    Could you send me more info on this technology? I am in need of a knee replacement (very little to no cartilage) but am roughly 9 years away from an acceptable age for a FKR, and my other knee is going because it is currently my only good leg to stand on. I have asked my surgeon about this, and he said that it looked promising, but more research is needed. I am in constant pain, but am still able to work.

  8. Avatar Norbert Kausen C.D. says:

    Could you please send more information to me ref this technology I am in need of a hip replacement and would prefer newer better methods of cartilage regeneration.