For the first time ever: Innovative surgery to regenerate knee cartilage

Complex surgery to implant cartilage together with stem cells from the patient’s own body was carried out this week at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center. The surgery was performed using an innovative technique based on the body’s biological ability to heal itself, enabling better results and faster rehabilitation

Hillel Yaffe Medical Center’s Orthopedics Division recently performed surgery which was the first of its kind, using an innovative orthobiologic method to implant cartilage combined with injecting stem cells straight into the knee. The operation was carried out led by specialists in sports medicine in the Orthopedics Division at Hillel Yaffe, Dr. Yaniv Yonai and Dr. Lior Laver, assisted by Dr. Oscar Vasquez and Dr. Ali Yassin.


The surgery was performed on a 33-year-old professional handball player, who suffered from a knee injury with several individual points of cartilage damage (places without full cartilage). When his condition failed to improve after ongoing conservative treatment and in light of continued degeneration in the state of the knee, it was decided to tailor him a unique treatment to regenerate the cartilage in those places where it was missing, using stem cells from the patient’s own body.


“This method is one of the innovative orthobiologic treatment methods, based on the natural-biological healing powers of the body in musculoskeletal injuries involving joint cartilage, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and bones. In these treatments, we basically “harness” the patient’s body to treat the injury. During surgery, after cleaning the cartilage damage, controlled drilling is carried out on the basis of damaged cartilage with the goal of stimulating the bone under the cartilage and local stem cells are brought to the damaged part. Later a biological implant based on a special biological matrix is injected into the damaged part together with concentrate of stem cells from the patient’s own body (BMAC = bone marrow aspirate concentrate), a procedure which enables the growth of new cartilage from the blood cells of the patient himself. With this method, we can also treat cases of focused and local cartilage damage, when the damage is not widespread,” explains Dr. Lior Laver, specialist in sports medicine and Director of the Hip Preservation Service at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center.


"one of the innovative orthobiologic treatment methods"


“In the not too distant past, damage like this was treated by drilling only into the bone under the cartilage, in the damaged areas. Now, with the innovative technologies, such as growing cartilage taken from a patient in laboratory conditions and re-implanting it into the patient (a procedure which requires two operations), or using a special biological matrix together with stem cells, as we did in this case, we can achieve better and more lasting results. The advantages of this technique are achieving excellent results with only one operation as opposed to two, and a faster rehabilitation process as opposed to other techniques in existence, and certainly when compared to methods which existed in the past,” adds Dr. Yaniv Yonai, a senior physician and Director of the Sports Clinic at the hospital.


“Treatment of cartilage damage is often challenging and dependent on many factors. There is no “one size fits all” treatment, but each treatment must be individually tailored to each patient, taking into account how much the cartilage is damaged, its location, extent, other damage or problems to the knee, the rehabilitation process involved, as well as additional individual factors, such as how active the patient is, his age, daily needs, ability to undergo long-term rehabilitation and more. Therefore, it is important to carry out a basic diagnostic assessment and adapt the treatment to each patient individually,” emphasizes Dr. Laver.


For advice and to schedule an appointment for consultation at the clinic, call: *6742.

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