Monday, April 13, 2009
Medical Reports: Need for Knees
Each year, a half million people suffer an injury to their knee cartilage. For those under 40, it can mean giving up a favorite activity and gaining a lifetime of pain, but a medical breakthrough could help many young people with bum knees put off a total knee replacement. Seven's Richard Lemus shows us this Need for Knees.
WSVN -- At just 31 years old Erin Elberson felt like she had the knees of someone three times her age.
Erin Elberson: "I was having trouble standing up from a chair. I could not go up and down stairs."
Like many of us, Erin has enjoyed a very active lifestyle, and her knees have suffered for it.
Erin Elberson: "The doctor said I basically had no cartilage left under my knee caps."
With little to cushion her bones, she was in constant pain, and after several failed knee surgeries the young woman was told she would need a total knee replacement.
Erin Elberson: "Not an optimal option considering my age and the fact that I would have needed a replacement surgery every 10 years for the rest of my life."
So Erin turned to Dr. Martin Roche at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, who's performing a cutting edge procedure that sounds like something out of a science fiction movie.
Dr. Martin Roche: "We can now regrow our own cells and re-implant them into the area of damage in our knees."
Until now, growing cartilage wasn't something doctors even thought was possible.
Dr. Martin Roche: "We never thought we could grow tissue that does not have a good blood supply."
But they can, and here's how they're doing it. During minor surgery, Dr. Roche takes a small sample of healthy cartilage from a patient's knee. That biopsy is then sent to a lab near Boston, Massachusetts.
Now here's where the cool part comes in. Scientists there culture and grow millions of cells from that tiny sample of cartilage.
Genzyme Guy: "When you start with say 200,000 cells from a biopsy, seven to nine days later you could have 10 million cells."
Once the healthy cells have multiplied, they are sent back to the hospital where they are surgically re-implanted into the patient's knee.
Dr. Martin Roche: "By injecting your own cells, your body stimulates them to turn into fully formed cartilage cells."
As time goes by their cells grow inside the defect, they mature, they form a hard tissue and eventually their pain resolves. The recovery is intensive and takes months of rehab, but patients like Erin say it's worth it.
Erin Elberson: "I can do all my everyday activities without pain, which is amazing to me."
Erin is now even competing as a fitness model, her need for new knees met by science.
Erin Elberson: "The idea of regrowing cartilage sounds space age-y, but it really does work."
Richard Lemus: "This procedure is not for people with arthritis of the knees. It's only for those with knee injuries or who have suffered the normal wear and tear of their knee cartilage."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Martin Roche
4725 N. Federal Hwy.
Holy Cross Hospital
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308