KR is a 59 year old lady with very severe knee arthritis who we didn’t know if we could help. She had a very collapsed lateral (outside) joint space and her remaining meniscus was very small, degenerated, and pushed outside the joint with big bone spurs. She also had the femur bone in poor alignment with the tibia bone. Basically a mess we would have graded in the “POOR” category for a stem cell injection for knee arthritis. She was placed into one of our studies and specialized T2 maps were performed on an ultra-high strength MRI before and 6 months after the procedure (see above). Much to my surprise, she reported major improvements in pain and function and her knee swelling went away. Did we regrow large areas of cartilage? While there is some evidence on the MRI of thicker cartilage, that’s less likely. What happened? Just as in the last similar case I blogged on a few days ago (SK), KR has increased width of the lateral joint space likely due to increased size of that small meniscus. The meniscus is a “spacer” in the joint. It separates the two cartilage surfaces of the knee joint (femur from tibia or thigh bone from leg bone). In a knee that’s as severely damaged as this knee, making it bigger would have dramatic effects. It would mean that the two bones of the knee would move more smoothly and one bone wouldn’t be crashing into the other. The fancy T2 maps above allow us to determine exactly where cartilage begins and bone ends, so it makes these types of measurements much more exact.
So in a trashed knee, can we help? Well our procedure isn’t going to make a new knee, but it does seem to do the right things in many patients, as this is one of many cases where we have seen improvement in meniscus function/size, which may be all these patients need to function better. In fact, orthopedic surgeons have been working on implanting cadaver meniscus’ in knees for years, an injection of stem cells may make the meniscus better without the big surgery part.
This patient was treated with the Regenexx-C (cultured stem cell injections). Not every knee patient can expect this type of result.