Using your own cells to repair your knee injury

(Image: Big Stock Photo)

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — People of all ages have knee injuries, but a new treatment option is available that could help speed up recovery, and lessen pain.

The latest procedure approved by the FDA in January was timely for Collin Nilsen, who was in a lot of pain. Leaning on crutches and wearing a brace, Collin is now on his feet walking.

“I was carrying one of my daughters up the stairs, and I felt a pain in my leg and it swelled up.”

Just three weeks after knee surgery, no more pain.

“It feels great to know that this knee is healthy, and this one will be healthy.”

The culprit turned out to be worn out cartilage in Collin’s right knee after a twisting injury. Treatment options included a partial knee replacement; but Dr. Michael Kuhn with Orthopedic Associates of Middletown recommended the latest innovative approach, the MACI procedure, harvesting a patient’s own cells to repair it.

“We can take his cartilage cells,” says Dr. Kuhn, “We can grow them on a matrix. We can take them from a few thousand cells to many millions and implant them into his knee through a very small incision.”

He is among a handful of surgeons in the state offering it.

“This is cartilage loss (pointing to an MRI), and by definition arthritis and so what we are trying to do is reverse that, repair that, replace that defect with these cartilage cells to eliminate the progression in arthritis. The membrane sticks to the space of this defect and at that point the cells, actually over the first 24 or 48 hours start to migrate over into the bone.”

The active 37-year-old says Dr. Kuhn, with “good quadriceps strength and in tone, ” is an ideal candidate for the procedure; approved by the FDA for 17 to 55-year-olds.

Benefits include quick recovery, and low risk of pain.

“If I had gone to another doctor I may not have had this option. I may have had a knee replacement or still be in pain,” Nilsen said.

Other options, implanting the cells in liquid form and donor tissue, which Dr. Kuhn says are more complex with longer patient recovery. This latest procedure is outpatient surgery.

For more information — visit or call 860-CT-ORTHO (860-286-7846). You can also go the product website at 

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