Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic Surgeon, Dr. Joseph Barker, became the first surgeon in Wake County and the first surgeon in the Raleigh metro area to perform the Matrix Associated Chondrocyte Implantation (MACI). MACI is a new procedure that uses a thin patch to hold the patient’s own cartilage cells in place as they grow. It is the first tissue-engineered cartilage scaffold using the patient’s own cells to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Additionally the technology for this new procedure constitutes the first, and only new, cartilage technology to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1996.
Cartilage damage is a common knee problem that occurs in patients of all ages. It can happen as a result of an injury, like a blow to the knee, or due to wear and tear over time. In either case, it causes knee swelling, stiffness and pain.
“My passion is fixing patient’s problems and restoring anatomy. This new procedure allows both of these possibilities,” said Barker. “Having had six previous knee surgeries myself, I understand how frustrating these problems can be. This new technology helps achieve our goal of decreased pain, improved function, and restored quality of life for patients.”
MACI uses the patient’s own healthy cartilage cells to grow new cells, which is similar to older techniques except the procedure is more precise and efficient. First, the surgeon harvests healthy cartilage cells in a simple outpatient procedure. The cells are then transported to a lab, where they are grown for six to eight weeks and placed on a collagen patch or membrane. The patch is then sent to the operating room where the surgeon places the patch directly to the patient’s damaged knee to begin repair.
The collagen membrane used in MACI is manufactured by Vericel Corporation, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“I am very excited to be able to offer this advanced technology to patients right here in North Carolina,” Barker said. “Unlike traditional, older cartilage-cell transplant techniques, MACI can be done through smaller incisions with decreased operative time. While this is new to the United States, the procedure has been preformed successfully for nearly 10 years in Europe.”