As a general rule, cartilage, once damaged, does not repair itself. As a result, several techniques have been developed to stimulate the repair process.
The traditional treatment involves micro-fracture of the damaged area of cartilage. The drilling of holes stimulates the ingrowth of blood vessels and the laying down of new cartilage. The outcome of micro-fracture is, however, unpredictable, with about a 50% success rate.
Mr Lawrence believes that the use of collagen membranes Maioregen impregnated with bone crystals will provide a more predictable scaffolding for cartilage repair. Repair starts at the time of the first arthroscopy (examination with an instrument through which the interior of a joint may be inspected or operated on) avoiding repeat procedures.
If addressed early, osteochondral lesions can be treated with bioactive membranes that induce bone and cartilage regeneration. Mr Lawrence believes that this technology may dramatically improve the outcome of early arthritis of the knee joint. The technology is however still experimental. Recovery occurs over a period of months and a specific rehabilitation program is followed.
An alternative treatment involves harvesting cartilage, growing it in a lab with later implantation of the cartilage sheets. Although some early results are promising, a long recovery is required and several key-hole surgery operations may be required.