Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI) surgery is a procedure that repairs cartilage damage in the joints and is most commonly performed in the knee.
Our Beverly Hills knee surgeons at La Peer Health Systems in Los Angeles are leading experts in their field and formulate individualized treatment plans for patients with all different types of knee conditions. Patients who opt to visit our world-renowned facilities receive an unparalleled quality of service and care. They also benefit from our knowledge and expertise in the very latest ACI surgery procedures.
ACI surgery involves removing cartilage cells from the knee, utilizing them to grow many millions of cells in a laboratory, and then implanting the new cells back into the knee where the cartilage was damaged. This surgery is appropriate for patients with small areas of cartilage damage and not for those with extreme wear, as is characteristic of advanced arthritis. Only an orthopedic surgeon can determine if a patient is a candidate for ACI surgery.
Who Is a Candidate For ACI Surgery?
Typically, patients who are candidates for ACI surgery will have a focused area of cartilage damage and be experiencing pain or swelling that limits their range of motion and overall activity. A candidate will have an otherwise stable knee with no ligament damage. Furthermore, the candidate will have undergone non-surgical treatments in an attempt to remedy their condition before attempting a procedure as significant as ACI surgery.
Perhaps most importantly, patients must commit to at least a year of rigorous rehabilitation. A key component of this procedure’s success is rehab. Patients can reap the benefits of this advanced operation only if they can commit to a lengthy rehab program.
What Happens During An ACI Surgery?
Once it has been decided that ACI surgery will be performed, there are two critical steps in the process:
- Knee Arthroscopy
- Knee Implantation
First, arthroscopic surgery is performed to visually inspect the knee, find the area of the cartilage that has been damaged, and determine if the patient is a candidate for ACI surgery. During this surgery, cartilage cells are collected. The cells are then sent to a laboratory where, over the course of 4-6 weeks, they are multiplied. When enough cells are grown, they are sent to the surgeon for implantation in the patient’s knee.
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The second step in the process involves an incision being made in the knee so that the cartilage can be viewed. Another incision over the shinbone is then made so that a thick tissue known as periosteum can be harvested. A periosteal patch is then harvested and sewn over the damaged cartilage. Once this is complete, the new cells can be implanted under the patch where they will be held in place.
ACI Surgery Success
The success of an ACI surgery procedure is dependent on several factors, including the treatment of complications that may arise. One of the most common complications is the formation of scar tissue around the periosteal patch, which may require an additional arthroscopic surgery to remedy. It is also critical that patients strictly adhere to the rehabilitation regimen prescribed to them by their surgeon.
Most often weight must be limited on the area of the implant for up to 8 weeks. Motion must be initiated early on after surgery in order to stimulate healthy growth of cartilage, but this must be balanced with the weight limitations. After a period of 3 to 6 months more weight and intensity can be placed on the knee and after 12 to 16 months, athletes can return to full sporting activity. Remember, rehabilitation plays a key role in the success of any ACI surgery.
ACI Surgery FAQ’s
Q: Following ACI surgery, how long will bed-rest be required?
A: Bed rest is not required following ACI surgery. The use of a CPM (continuous passive motion) device, used for aiding joint recovery, will be required for up to 6 hours per day.
Q: Will a wheelchair or crutches need to be used after ACI surgery?
A: Most patients will not require a wheelchair, but crutches will need to be used for about 6-8 weeks.
Q: How long will the new cartilage last?
A: Successful ACI surgery results in very durable cartilage and can last for the rest of a patient’s life.
Contact a La Peer Health Systems Orthopedic Surgeon
La Peer Health Systems in Beverly Hills boasts the finest orthopedic surgeons in the country. We utilize the latest and most effective procedures when performing ACI surgeries. To schedule a consultation with one of our talented orthopedic surgeons, call (888) 429-6865 or fill out our appointment form.
Next, read about the knee surgery procedures offered at La Peer Health Systems.