Cartiform: An Exiting New Treatment At RVO!

Cartilage wear of the knee is an unfortunately common, painful, debilitating problem which remains very difficult to treat, even in 2016.  Left unchecked, it worsens progresses to frank arthritis and often leads to the future need for complete knee replacement. Common treatments for cartilage wear include activity modification, physical therapy, medications, vitamin supplements, braces and injections. When these interventions fail, surgery is considered, and surgical treatments include arthroscopic smoothing of the worn cartilage, Microfracture, and a variety of fairly involved cartilage transplant options.

Some of the problems in the current cartilage transplant techniques include the need for staged surgeries, long waits for graft to be available for transplant, difficulty fitting donated graft/tissue to the knee, and concerns in certain patients with bone as well as cartilage injury.

Cartiform is a new graft, FDA approved, that improves upon these concerns. Cartiform is a live cartilage graft derived from donated human tissue cartilage and bone that is created by modifying the tissue to flexible patches. These patches contain live cartilage & bone that is kept viable by special storage solutions, and are stored in a frozen state for as long as two years.

The surgical technique to implant the Cartiform patch is similar to other cartilage transplant techniques in that a formal open knee incision is still necessary, and the post-surgery care is similar to the other techniques in that prolonged (6 weeks) non-weight bearing is still necessary. However, only one surgery is necessary, and the graft is immediately available and is easily cut to fit most defects, so no longer are potentially months of waiting for a suitable graft to become available and then a rush to do the surgery when that graft is finally available.

Like many new techniques, since this product and technique is new, there are not yet any long term reports on the success of this procedure. However, as this is truly human osteochondral allograft tissue, it is expected that the Cartiform version of allograft tissue will achieve similar outcomes to that seen for the traditional fresh osteochondral allograft transplants that have been used for decades. Further study is ongoing for the Cartiform graft.

Cartiform is an exciting new upgrade to our “tool chest” in treating cartilage defects in the knee and other joints. CLICK HERE, for more information on Cartiform.