When bones are broken or injured they have an amazing ability to regenerate themselves. With proper care a healed bone is often just as strong as before the injury. However when cartilage is damaged there is little that can be done to regrow the damaged area. In fact, damaged cartilage can spread to harm the healthy cartilage surrounding it and cause long-term problems such as osteoarthritis. Most patients with cartilage injuries simply learn to live with the pain. Today, that is no longer necessary. A new procedure called autologous cartilage transplantation (ACT) offers new ways to heal cartilage damage and prevent long-term deterioration. Better known as Carticel, the procedure grows tissue identical to biopsied cartilage taken from the patient.
Medical Park Orthopaedic Clinic (MPOC) physician Jack Seaquist, M.D. was the first to perform the breakthrough surgery in Austin. Today, Dr. Seaquist and fellow MPOC physician Shelby Carter, M.D. have performed over 18 successful transplants. All physicians within the group are specially trained for this procedure.
First developed in Europe, the Carticel works to grow new tissue in damaged areas. During the initial surgery a physician extracts biopsies of injured knee cartilage and sends it to a lab where the biopsy is grown into multiple cells. The new cells, which are your own (autologous) cultured cartilage cells, are then implanted back into the injured knee where they begin to grow new tissue in the damaged area.
While this procedure is being hailed as a successful solution, it does require patients to undergo extensive physical therapy to ensure that the cells adapt and grow the way they should. The Carticel procedure is indicative of a new age in medicine which brings less invasive procedures and offers more options than ever before in solving orthopedic problems.