Lifewatch: Carticel Procedure

Reported by Claire Hosmann - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

ALABAMA (WECT) - Doctors at one Alabama hospital are using cutting edge technology to help patients with injured knees get back on their feet.

There is a new procedure that uses a patient's own cells to create new cartilage.

"If I ran at all I would be sore and ache like my bones hitting together.  That's why they wanted to do the carticel - bone hitting bone," said patient Shannon Ashe.

Dr. Jeffery Dugas, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Vincent's, says Shannon's injury made her the perfect candidate for the carticel procedure.

"This is for younger, active people who have done damage to a specific portion of their knee who otherwise would have a good knee," said Dugas.

The carticel procedure is the first cell-based therapy to be approved by the FDA and includes taking cells from a patients own knee and sending them to a lab to develop replacement cartilage.

"By taking that tic-tac they can take those cells, separate them out from the tissue they're in and grow them millions of times. Each cell is genetically the same as the other, because you use patients own DNA," said Dugas.

Harvesting the cells takes about 15 minutes and is an outpatient procedure.

The cells are then sent to a lab where they are multiplied.  It usually takes 3-4 weeks before they are surgically placed back into the knee.

"By doing the carticel procedure you're getting a cartilage like material, which is a lot closer to what it started as," said Dugas.

Shannon says she worked for several years to get better after her operation and says it finally feels like a normal knee.