Cartilage Transplant Leaves Woman Pain-Free

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
Cartilage Transplant Leaves Woman Pain-Free
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Faustina Forbes, a 39-year-old dietary patient service assistant who works on the orthopedic unit at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, hears from patients daily about the pain associated with a knee injury. Now, she's the patient and can relate all too well.

"I've spent the last two-and-a-half years hobbling around in pain," said Forbes. "Since my cartilage transplant, my pain level has gone from a 10 down to a zero!"

The procedure, a first in Michigan, involves transplanting cartilage from a juvenile cadaver and implanting it into the injured joint. The minimally invasive surgery requires an incision smaller than the length of a house key. A patch containing the cartilage is implanted and almost immediately new cartilage begins to regenerate.

Shariff K. Bishai, D.O., Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe orthopedic surgeon, points out that juvenile cartilage regenerates much faster, unlike adult cartilage which has to be grown in the lab. The procedure takes about 60-90 minutes and while it can be done as an outpatient, Dr. Bishai prefers to keep the patient overnight.

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Prior to the surgery, the constant pain in Forbes' left knee, caused by an injury while playing with her two children, ages 7 and 16, kept her from spending time with them. Trips to the zoo, Cedar Point and pretty much all other outdoor activities were impossible for her to do.

Thanks to the new procedure, Forbes is hopeful this summer will not be lost to pain. She had her surgery in mid-May and is now attending physical therapy to help strengthen the knee.

"This procedure is in the very early stages of development," said Dr. Bishai. "This is the first procedure done in Michigan and only the fourth done in the Midwest, so we are short on long-term data right now. But, the patient is pain-free and that is promising."

Other knee transplant procedures include the need to extract cartilage, regenerating the cartilage in the laboratory and then take them back to surgery to implant the newly grown cartilage. The patient had two surgeries within three to four weeks, was anesthetized twice and endured two recoveries.

This new procedure is a one-step process that reduces the possibility of infection and trauma to the patient because it is one surgery versus two. And, this procedure is much less costly.

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