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Ankle Cartilage Replacement

The cartilage in joints, also called articular cartilage, can be damaged by injury or normal wear and tear. Cartilage does not heal itself well, so doctors have developed surgical techniques to stimulate the growth of new cartilage. A procedure known as autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI), which is most commonly performed on cartilage in the knees, has now been developed for the ankles as well.

The ACI procedure for ankle cartilage, developed by Dr. Richard Ferkel, a foot and ankle specialist at Southern California Orthopedic Institute, treats areas of damaged cartilage by taking a few cartilage cells from the ankle, growing them in a lab, and then implanting them into the area of cartilage damage.

The first step in this procedure is to arthroscopically remove healthy cartilage tissue from an area of the bone. The tissue is sent to a lab where the cells are cultured and increase in number over a 3-5 week period.

The second step in the procedure is the implantation of the newly grown cells into the injured cartilage area. A layer of bone-lining tissue, taken from another part of the body, is sewn over the injured area. The newly grown cartilage cells are then injected into the defect under this tissue cover.

As Dr. Ferkel explains, “One of the major benefits to this procedure is the patient’s own cells are used, so there is no danger of a patient rejecting the tissue.”

To find out more about the ankle cartilage replacement procedure, please call Southern California Orthopedic Institute today at (877) 952-8484.

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