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What is Carticel®?

By Debra Durkee
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Carticel® is the name of a group of cells grown in a laboratory from samples and used to repair the cartilage in the knees of a patient. This procedure is usually done after other options have failed, and can be successful in treating damage from a number of causes. As the cells need to be grown after they are taken from the patient's body, the process used to create Carticel® can take up to several weeks.

The process by which Carticel® is implanted into a patient's knee to repair damaged cartilage is called autologous chrondrocyte implantation (ACI). Those who are candidates for the procedure include individuals who have had their knees damaged by sudden injuries or trauma, as well as those who have suffered damage due to repetitive actions that have worn away the cartilage between the bones of the knee. Patients who have tried other forms of knee surgery that have not worked are often candidates for this procedure.

Once an individual is found to be a suitable candidate for ACI, a biopsy of the cartilage in the knee is taken, and cells are removed from a healthy area of the knee. These cells are then sent to a lab, where they are grown in a culture. This process can take several weeks to complete, and the end result is cartilage cells grown from the person's own tissues. Cells can be stored for several years and still remain a viable product. These cells are called Carticel®, and once there is enough material to fix the knee, it is inserted into the injured joint.

As Carticel® is grown from a person's own cells, there is little to no chance that the implantation will be rejected; the body's immune system typically recognizes this new material as being a part of the body. There is also a greatly decreased risk of the transmission of disease through the tissues. Once the Carticel® is inserted into the knee, it will be incorporated into the existing tissue to fill in any gaps or holes. Physical therapy is often required to get the individual accustomed to the new tissue, and some patients may need to have more than one procedure done.

Carticel® is a versatile therapy that can be used for adults with a number of injuries. There are two different kinds of cartilage in the knee, and Carticel® generally replaces the articular cartilage. This is the structure that covers the ends of the bones in the knee, allowing them to move against each other without grinding. It has not been successful in treating individuals with cartilage damage associated with osteoarthritis.

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