GS is a 64 year old male who went for a 20 mile run in May 2009 and suddenly felt severe pain in his left knee. He tried to run the next day and was unable to finish the work-out. He eventually went to see an orthopedic surgeon who told him he had a medial meniscus tear and he underwent a medial menisectomy knee surgery.
When we first evaluated him at our Colorado clinic in August of 2009, he was continuing to have knee problems and had been unable to return to running. His MRI showed a hole in the cartilage on the inside of the knee and the remaining meniscus was showing clear signs of wear stress. What were his surgical options at that point?
One option was microfracture surgery, which has become an increasingly common surgical procedure used to treat cartilage defects. In this surgery, the bare bone in the cartilage hole is penetrated and bone marrow seeps into the area, which can heal with a scar like cartilage. The problem for GS was his age, as recent research has shown that the microfracture knee surgery technique doesn’t work as well in patients over 40 years of age. Another option was an autologous cartilage implant (ACI) surgery, which has been shown to be only slightly less effective in older patients. In this surgery, cartilage cells are taken from the knee in one surgery and then re-implanted months later in a second surgery where they are sewn under a fibrous flap created in the cartilage hole. The problem with knee ACI surgery for GS was the 6 months of downtime that was required to let the surgical area heal.
Unlike micro fracture in older patients, our analysis of the Regenexx-C knee stem cell procedure shows no age related decline in outcome. Also, unlike knee ACI surgery, our knee stem cell injection procedure creates little down time and need for extensive rehabilitation. In the end, the long-time runner chose to undergo the Regenexx-C procedure, getting knee injections of his own stem cells instead of knee surgery in September/October 2009 and January/February 2010. He is now one year and three months out from his last stem cell injection into his painful knee and reports this week that he’s back to running on that knee with no issues, pain, or problems. He’s now back at the clinic (he lives in upstate New York) to try the Regenexx-SD stem cell injection therapy for a new meniscus problem in the other untreated knee. GS’s story is one we’ve seen repeated many times. Very active patients (such as runners, bicyclists, and triathletes) who have traditional knee surgery that fails, but who respond to a less invasive injection of their own stem cells into the injured knee.
We wish GS many more miles on his “Stem Cell Knee”! It’s important to note that all patients don’t get these same results.
NOTE: Regenexx-C and Regenexx-SD are medical procedures and like all medical procedures they have a success and failure rate. Not all patients should expect the same result.