Researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery, New York have reported results from 2 separate studies that suggest that cartilage restoration procedures can be successfully undertaken in patients over age 40. This treatment option has been shown to produce successful outcomes ranging from 50% to 90% in younger patients (age 30 and below) but this work is the first to confirm the viability of 3 different repair procedures in an older patient cohort. The procedures use different types of cartilage “plugs” and all were found to relieve pain and improve function in older patients with articular cartilage damage. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Articular cartilage can be damaged by injury or through normal wear and tear. The smooth white tissue covering the ends of bones at a joint does not heal itself, prompting the development of a variety of surgical interventions to repair the damage. Cartilage restoration, of the type undertaken in the studies, is appropriate for patients with cartilage lesions, but not with advanced bone-on-bone arthritis. The “plugs” used to fill the damaged areas can be synthetic or natural tissue from either a donor or from the patient’s own cartilage. All 3 approaches were found to decrease pain and permit higher activity levels in the study group, whose mean age was 51.5 years. Read more about the findings here.