One of the relatively new state-of-the-art procedures that may be used by an orthopedic surgeon in Sacramento, CA is autologous chondrocyte implantation or ACI. ACI is used to treat the knee for isolated full-thickness articular cartilage defects. ACI has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for any cartilage defects situated at the end of the thigh bone or the femur. In addition, ACI is performed for defects that are located in the knee cap or patella as well as other body joints. The ACI procedure consists of two stages.
The First Stage of the Procedure
The first stage is performed arthroscopically by an orthopedic surgeon in under 30 minutes. During surgery, the doctor harvests a small piece of articular cartilage from the knee, which is usually the size of a Tic-Tac. The cartilage biopsy is then delivered to a lab where it is enzymatically treated to isolate the chondrocytes or the cartilage-producing cells. Once these cells are obtained, they are expanded in number and delivered to the surgeon in about six weeks for implantation.
The Second Stage: Implantation
The second stage of the procedure is an open process. A small patch is sewn over the defect of the articular cartilage. The chondrocytes that were previously harvested are then injected beneath the patch and affixed to the patient’s knee. Following this part of the operation, an orthopedic surgeon will prescribe a regimen of physical therapy. The therapy usually emphasizes strengthening activities and range-of-motion exercise.
The surgeon may also recommend the use of a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine to enhance the success of the graft. A return to light sports activity is usually permitted at about six months with a full return to activities after nine months to a year. The overall success rate for an ACI is around 85%. To find out more about this innovative procedure, contact us for further details.