Press Release From the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopeadic Hospital October 2017:
A rare treatment for a type of arthritis in the knee – currently only offered at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) in Shropshire – has won official approval to be funded by the NHS.
Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI) is a technique used to help patients with an articular cartilage defect, something that can impact younger people in their 20s and 30s – sometimes as a result of a sporting injury.
The procedure sees a sample of cartilage removed from the patient’s knee from which their own cells are then grown in a laboratory, a process which takes around three weeks. These cells, known as chondrocytes, are returned into the patient’s defect area in a second surgical procedure.
ACI can only be offered to patients who meet a number of defined criteria as set out by NICE in their guidance note TA477. These criteria include that the patient must not have had previous surgery to repair articular cartilage defects, as evidence from previous trials has shown ACI to be much less effective in these cases. There should also be minimal osteoarthritic damage to the knee and the defect should be over two square centimetres.
Prof Richardson added: “The typical patient would be under the age of 40 and would be someone who might have picked up an injury playing football which has led to a chondral defect in their knee that causes pain and is tender on examination. “This patient would otherwise be healthy, with intact ligaments and a straight leg.”