Helping knees help themselves

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
May 25, 2008 9:00:00 PM PDT
A new device helps knees heal themselves, preventing arthritis and getting athletes back in the game.With more on how it works, Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg.

Torn cartilage in the knee can be painful and oftentimes difficult to repair, but a new device is helping those hard to treat tears heal themselves.

Playing college football is hard on the body. University of Missiour starting right guard, number 78, Kurtis Gregory, knows that all too well.

"My rear end hit the floor and I just kinda felt something that didn't seem right," he said.

Gregory tore his meniscus, the cushion of cartilage in the knee that provides padding and stability to the joint.

"I couldn't even walk to practice," he said.

Torn menisci are often difficult to repair or irreparable and removed, resulting in joint pain that can lead to arthritis.

But now, researchers have found a way to help torn menisci heal themselves. Dr. Jimi Cook, a veterinarian, has been testing a new device called a bio-duct in some furry knees.

"Dogs' knees and human knees are really comparable, both in the problem that occurs and the way that we treat them," Dr. Cook said.

Together, Dr. Cook and a colleague conducted research that led to the FDA approval of bio-duct in humans. Bio-duct works by acting as tunnel to transport cells and blood from the vascular outer part of a meniscus to the site of the tear, which doesn't receive blood flow.

"We're actually kind of plumbing the meniscus," Dr. Cook said. "The cells and the blood supply to allow them to heal is just not there in that tissue, so this device actually brings that in a directed manner."

The device is implanted arthroscopically and is bio-absorbable, so it doesn't need to be removed. With adequate blood supply, a meniscus tear can heal itself completely in less than 12 weeks, getting everyone back on their feet.

Researchers say the bio-duct is ready to be used to treat human meniscus tears and will be widely available within the next few months.


Schwartz Biomedical

Dr. Jimi Cook