Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cutting Out Tissue to Cure?

Much of modern surgery on joints involves the idea that cutting out torn or macerated tissue is a good idea. Take for example that a meniscus repair is actually removing the torn part or parts of that tissue that won't heal. While this can provide short-term relief, the research has shown that over the long run, it leads to more arthritis in the joint. This happens because the remaining tissue gets over-loaded and less meniscus tissue means less lubrication for the joint. The advent of regenerative medicine where we can now heal tissue means that we shouldn't be removing torn pieces. This also means that surgical debridement of a degenerative area will likely be replaced by more pro-active care.

Let me use myself as an example of this new paradigm. I injured the cartilage under my knee cap while jumping on a trampoline with the kids. Rather than improving over time, the area worsened over the next year until I had difficulty climbing stairs. Since I had failed conservative care, the next step in the traditional surgical paradigm would be to "debride" the area. This means that a surgeon would go in and cut out some of the cartilage around the area already missing some cartilage. Removing those pieces may have felt better for awhile, but ultimately would have lead to more arthritis in the area. Another option would be micro fracture, but that would mean 12 weeks on crutches, which for me, given the amount of disability wouldn't have been worth it. Since this was a small lesion, I had my one of my partners inject a patent pending Regenexx mixture which consisted of the growth factors isolated from my blood platelets and a component to cause a small micro-injury to kick off a healing cycle. Several days after this injection I was able to climb stairs without pain and to go back to trail running. What happened? A small micro injury was created by the injection at the specific site of the cartilage lesion. The growth factors then went to work to help increase my natural cartilage repair capabilities and lubrication.

As you can see, these new technologies now allow us to get ahead of the problem through promotion of repair rather than cutting out the broken parts. The new paradigm, heal before you consider cutting!