With over 100 million Americans suffering from some form of chronic pain, knee pain ranks second as the most common source. 18% of men and nearly 20% of women report having knee pain. Whether the cause of their pain is the result of too much weight being placed on the knee, poor technique during activity, trauma, or something else, knee pain is very common and can make it difficult to walk and function in everyday life.
One of the biggest causes of knee pain is from damage to articular cartilage, a firm, rubbery material that covers the ends of bones in the knee joint. This cartilage reduces friction and serves as a natural shock absorber in your knee. When this cartilage gets damaged or decays over time, it can cause pain. If not treated, individuals may ultimately require knee replacement surgery to reestablish normal function.
A viable option for many knee pain sufferers involves the restoration of cartilage. Matrix-Applied Characterized Autologous Cultured Chondrocyte Implantation (MACI) is a surgical procedure that uses your own cells to regenerate the articular cartilage within your knee.
“The repair tissue has been shown to form as early as six months following the procedure, and overall, MACI can provide long-lasting pain relief and improvement in function,” according to a two-year follow up of a prospective randomized trial. (Am. J. Sports Med)
Dr. Gregg Berkowitz is a leading orthopedic surgeon who specializes in cartilage repair and utilizes MACI to assist in returning his patients to full, pain-free function. According to Dr. Berkowitz, MACI is proving to be very effective at restoring damaged articular knee cartilage.
How Does The MACI Process Work:
STEP 1: BIOPSY TAKEN
If your doctor thinks MACI may be an option for you at some point, he or she will take a biopsy (a sample of tissue approximately the size of two Tic Tacs®) of your healthy knee cartilage.
STEP 2: BIOPSY PROCESSED
The biopsy is shipped to a state-of-the-art, quality-controlled, FDA-licensed facility in Cambridge Massachusetts, where it will be stored cryogenically (frozen) for you.
STEP 3: YOUR OWN CELLS
When you and your doctor decide the time is right for MACI, cartilage cells (chondrocytes) from your biopsy will be expanded and seeded on a special membrane.
STEP 4: MACI DELIVERED
MACI is delivered to your surgeon for the implantation procedure.
STEP 5: MACI IMPLANTED
Your surgeon will shape the MACI implant to the size of your particular cartilage defect and then place it into your knee, affixing it to the damaged area.
While the use of human cells in healthcare still lacks sufficient data in understanding the long-term outcomes and benefits, MACI, so far, is proving to be a very successful option specifically for cartilage regeneration for the reduction and elimination of knee pain.