Cartilage Regrowth & Regeneration (MACI)
About Cartilage Regrowth & Regeneration (MACI)
The cartilage in our knees covers the ends of the bones, protecting the joints and allowing the knee to move smoothly. However, this cartilage can weaken and wear down over time, either due to repetitive motion or an acute or traumatic injury. This can cause significant knee pain, which may affect your normal activities.
Unfortunately, unlike other tissues in the body, cartilage does not heal on its own because it does not have the circulation necessary for self-repair. If the cartilage in your knee has worn down, it will not improve and may actually get worse without treatment. In the past, treatment options for damaged knee cartilage have included transplanting a cartilage graft taken from the patient’s own tissue or a cadaver. However, cartilage transplantation has not always yielded the best results for patients.
Newer technologies have allowed for using biologic therapies to regenerate the cartilage in the knee. MACI, short for autologous cultured chondrocytes on porcine collagen membrane, is a cartilage implantation technique using the patient’s own cartilage cells that have been expanded in a lab to act as a “patch” for damaged cartilage. Though newer, this technology has been around since the 1990s and is FDA-approved for use in the knees. Dr. Cahill was involved in the original research for this procedure and often gives lectures about it. Over his 20-plus years in practice, Dr. Cahill has found that this cartilage regrowth and regeneration technique provides the best results for patients with cartilage damage in the knees.
How Does Cartilage Regrowth & Regeneration Work?
MACI cartilage regeneration is done in a staged approach:
- Dr. Cahill has a consultation with the patient to determine whether cartilage regeneration is the right approach for the patient’s problem.
- Dr. Cahill does a small arthroscopic procedure to take a biopsy of the patient’s healthy cartilage.
- The cartilage biopsy is shipped to an FDA-licensed lab to be processed.
- The patient’s cartilage cells are expanded in the lab to create a collagen membrane that will act as a patch for the patient’s damaged cartilage. This MACI implant is sent to Dr. Cahill when the patient is ready for surgery.
- Dr. Cahill will shape the MACI implant so that it fits within the area of cartilage damage in the knee, then implants it in the knee using minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques.
Though this procedure is done in a staged approach, it is minimally invasive, which makes recovery easier on the patient.
Benefits of Cartilage Regrowth & Regeneration
Cartilage regrowth and regeneration with MACI offers many benefits to patients with chronic knee pain caused by cartilage damage:
- MACI uses the patient’s own cartilage cells to regrow and regenerate cartilage.
- The procedure is minimally invasive, which often minimizes pain in recovery.
- It is more effective than older cartilage regrowth techniques, which often create scar tissue rather than new cartilage.
- Cartilage regeneration reduces knee pain caused by damaged cartilage, allowing patients to resume more active lifestyles with improved knee function.
Recovery & Long-Term Results of Cartilage Regrowth & Regeneration
Following the procedure with Dr. Cahill to place the MACI implant, the knee is immobilized with a brace. Patients must take care to protect the knee and limit weightbearing for the first 6 weeks after the procedure to ensure success.
Dr. Cahill will prescribe a recovery plan to help you achieve the best possible results from your procedure. This includes a rehabilitation program, beginning with passive motion and graduating to active exercises to regain motion and strength in the knee. Dr. Cahill will advise when it is safe to return to normal activities.
After the MACI implant is placed, the cells expand and grow to produce new cartilage to fill in the damaged area. This process can take up to a year to complete. By the time the cartilage regrowth process is complete, patients are able to resume all sports and recreational activities.
Cartilage Regrowth & Regeneration in Hackensack, NJ
Dr. James Cahill was involved in the early research for cartilage regrowth and regeneration techniques, and also frequently lectures about this procedure. With over 20 years of experience in orthopedic surgery, Dr. Cahill believes this technique provides the best results for patients with cartilage damage in the knees. If you are interested in learning more about cartilage regrowth and regeneration or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Cahill, please call our office at (201) 489-0022.