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Joint Preservation: Avoiding Total Knee Replacement

Joint Preservation: Avoiding Total Knee Replacement

Cartilage and Meniscal Transplantation

Athletes in their 20s and 30s who suffer knee injuries (torn ACL or meniscus) can be treated with great success. However, problems may occur five to ten years down the road that are a result of those injuries, and they are at increased risk for early osteoarthritis. These problems get in the way of the patient's active lifestyle. Cartilage or meniscal transplantations may be done to return these patients to their active lifestyles quicker and with less risk of complications, compared to total knee replacements using metal or plastic components. The procedure is done through tiny incisions, which facilitate recovery and involve less pain.

A piece of the patient's tissue is taken from his or her knee and that tissue is sent to a lab in Massachusetts where the cells are grown and expanded. Once the cells have grown, another procedure is required to then transplant the expanded patient's cells back in the knee. After a few months, the cells grow within the patient's knee with properties similar to those of the original cartilage, repairing the injury and avoiding total knee replacement.

Donated Cartilage
Some patients donate their cartilage when they pass away. This is a source of natural tissue with which young, active damaged knees may be replaced.

Platelet Rich Plasma
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRPs) and stem cells are also potential sources for cartilage transplantation, to reduce inflammation, enhance tissue regeneration and curb tissue degeneration.

Partial Knee Replacement
When there is significant wear on one aspect of the knee, an overnight procedure may be done called a Partial (Uni-compartmental) Knee Replacement, which involves limited pain and rapid recovery compared to a total knee replacement.

Holy Cross Orthopedic Institute's Francis "Frank" McCormick, MD, orthopedic surgeon, performs these procedures. Learn more about Dr. McCormick from his physician profile: Francis McCormick, MD.

For more information on Sports Medicine at the Holy Cross Orthopedic Institute in Fort Lauderdale, FL, visit

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