A Unique Treatment For Knee Pain In A Master Athlete - Page #4

Working Diagnosis:
Osteochondral defect of medial patella

Via ultrasound-guidance, bone marrow aspiration was drawn from the patient’s iliac crest. This aspirate was then centrifuged to produce a concentrated solution of adult mesenchymal stem cells. These cells were then applied to a scaffold of dehydrated allogenic cartilage to produce a soft paste. Surgical exposure of the cartilaginous surface of the patella was achieved and the osteochondral defect was debrided. The stem cell paste was then applied to the prepared defect and secured with fibrin glue.
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At his six month follow-up he was running, biking and able to do high knees. He was also able to leg press up to 280 lbs without pain. At seven months, he began sprinting again which he has been unable to do for 2 years.

Author's Comments:
As the active, elderly population increases, they are demanding more options to maintain their fitness level. Some hope to achieve or return to a competitive level of sport. These types of master athletes are seeking regenerative medicine treatments and the science is starting to show promise. The patient in this study presented with an isolated patellar osteochondral defect that was greatly affecting his ability to participate in his track and field events. There are multiple treatment methods for defects of this type, however, have limitations and less than desirable outcomes for athletes. Many of these methods, including those that utilize cartilage replacement techniques, have been found to produce fibrocartilage and not the native hyaline cartilage. There are reports that fibrocartilage replacement in these articular surfaces leads to future breakdown. Newer methods are utilizing the patient’s own mesenschymal stem cells that are concentrated and applied to a scaffold. This collection is then applied to the prepared defect. This type of treatment may result in hyaline cartilage rather than fibrocartilage once it incorporates with the surrounding tissue. This technique was chosen to give this patient a chance at a stronger, longer-lasting cartilage repair so he can return to his previous activity level with less pain and more confidence. This case demonstrates the successful collaboration between sports medicine physicians, one specializing in regenerative medicine techniques and the other specializing in orthopedic surgery.

Editor's Comments:
The treatment of large full thickness chondral lesions with MSC scaffolds has been gaining traction. Gobbi et al. termed this “Biologic Arthroplasty” and published several studies showing functional improvements in treating grade 4 cartilage lesions. In ongoing studies, Gobbi purports that this technique may also be a viable option in treating symptomatic cartilage lesions in the active elderly. This case is an example of a successful outcome with this treatment, however optimism must be tempered due to the relatively short (7month) followup period.

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