Cartilage & Arthritis
Autologous chondrocyte transplantation - Dr. Michael Lehmann
Transplantation of the body's own tissue
Autologous chondrocyte transplantation (ACT) is one of the newer treatment methods in the field of osteoarthritis therapy. With this procedure, a little cartilage tissue is taken from a healthy part of the joint.
The cartilage cells it contains are multiplied using specialist techniques in the laboratory and, after a few weeks, implanted into the bone defect in a second procedure. There, the cells ultimately mature to create high-quality regenerated cartilage which in most cases achieves over 90% of the biomechanical stability of healthy joint cartilage, as extensive investigations have demonstrated.
Procedures for cartilage damage by specialists
Autologous chondrocyte transplantation, with the cultivation of cartilage cells, is a highly complex process. The procedure should therefore only be carried out by suitably experienced clinicians in specialist centres.
For whom is autologous chondrocyte transplantation suitable?
- This technique is particularly useful for cartilage damage in the knee or ankle joint.
- The size of the defect should be no more than 10 square centimetres.
- Intact surrounding cartilage that has no signs of arthritis is essential.
- Patients should not be older than 50.
- Joint deformities (bow legs / knock knees) are an exclusion criterion, since in these cases the cartilage can be destroyed more easily due to the uneven stress placed on the joints.
A further development of autologous chondrocyte transplantation is Matrix-induced Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (MACI). With this technique, the cultivated cartilage cells are inserted into a three-dimensional collagen matrix before being transplanted back into the joint as this allows the cells to integrate more effectively into the joint and then slowly dissolves.