Dr. Kimberly Eickmeier, DPM, of Christie Clinic's Department of Podiatry, was the first doctor in east central Illinois to complete a new procedure called cartilage replacement surgery. It is performed on arthritis patients whose joint tissue has begun to wear away.
Most patients are between 35 and 60 years old. Juvenile donors and kids three years old or younger, provide hyaline cartilage that is placed into the arthritic joint. Hyaline cartilage from an adult is unusable because it fails to regenerate. However, with the onset of juvenile donations, adult arthritis patients now have an effective option to remain active.
"This is going to change the way we treat arthritis," says Dr. Eickmeier. Patients who have failed conservative means of treatment but aren't quite ready for a joint replacement are ideal candidates for this procedure.
The hyaline cartilage undergoes rigorous screenings to ensure it's safe from any transmittable diseases. Over the past 10 years there have been no major complications associated with this surgery. Post-operative recovery time for patients is three weeks on crutches, and then they're gradually introduced back into their normal routines.
Cartilage replacement surgery has been performed for about 10 years in Europe. Its infrequent use in the United States stems from the unwillingness of insurance companies to cover the hyaline cartilage that's needed for the procedure. Some patients cover the cost for the cartilage out of their own pockets to avoid alternative procedures, like full joint replacement or fusion of the joint.
For more information on this surgery, contact Dr. Kimberly Eickmeier in the Christie Clinic Department of Podiatry at 217-366-5418.