HealthWatch: BioCartilage Patches Potholes in the Body


BALTIMORE, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Cartilage is the cushiony material that protects our joints, and it takes a pounding! It wears down as we age and can be damaged during sports or sudden impact. Over the past few years, researchers have developed biologic materials to help repair or patch the tissue damage.  
Fifty-two year old Sheri Beach and her family love to hike.  But during a typical trek near her home, a water- logged trail almost put her out of commission for good.
“I took a step and stepped into a mud puddle. My foot went one way. My ankle went the other and I heard the crack,” Beach said.
 It took hours for the paramedics to reach her. Sheri’s family tried to keep her leg elevated to stop the swelling, but the damage was done.
Beach continued, “By the time we got to the hospital and they were able to reduce it, it had been over four hours.  The blood supply had been compromised.” 
Surgeons repaired breaks in Beach’s leg, but the talus bone near the ankle never recovered. A hole much like a pothole developed. Instead of major surgery to fuse the ankle, John Campbell, MD, an Orthopedic Surgeon at the Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy, Baltimore, suggested a newer technique, a graft called BioCartilage.
“It’s a form of cartilage from cadavers that is processed and morcellized and ground into dust and it’s combined with cells from the patient,” explained Dr. Campbell.
Surgeons insert the mixture to fill the damaged area. 
“The easiest way is like patching a hole in drywall while the material is liquid and soft you can fit it in.  It hardens and dries so it stays in the spot,” Campbell stated.
Beach says she went from being in constant pain to regaining almost full use of her foot.  Not only is she hiking again, but completed a two-day, 39 mile charity walk.  
The BioCartilage treatment was performed by Dr. Rebecca Cerrato as an outpatient procedure, but Dr. Campbell warns patients that they will need to be non-weight bearing for up to eight weeks after treatment.  It can take six months to regain full mobility.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field and Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer, Robert Walko; Editor.
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REPORT:    MB #4406

BACKGROUND: Cartilage is a type of hard, thick, slippery tissue that coats the ends of bones where they meet to form a joint. Cartilage lines the joint space between bones throughout the body. It acts as a protective cushion between bones to absorb the stress applied to joints during movement. In many kinds of arthritis, progressive joint deterioration occurs and the smooth “cushioning” cartilage in joints is gradually lost. As a result, the bones rub and wear against each other and can cause swelling and pain. Soft tissues in the joints also may begin to wear down and can eventually result in limited motion, loss of joint function, and deformities in the joints. Joints can also swell as a result of infection or injury of the cartilage. People with cartilage damage commonly experience joint pain, stiffness, and~swelling.
(Source: and

DIAGNOSING: After being evaluated, patients typically get x-rays so the doctor can look at the state of the bones in the ankle. Many patients will even get a CAT scan or an MRI to get a better three dimensional view. Some patients respond well to conservative treatment, which can include special exercises, NSAIDs, and sometimes steroid injections. Exercises may include~physical therapy or a program the patient can do at home. If the damage is not extensive, this may be all the patient needs. Patients who do not respond to conservative treatment will need surgery. Microfracture is an arthroscopic procedure using a small sharp pick to create a network of holes in the bone at the base of the cartilage injury. These holes allow blood into the injured area to form a clot. Over time, this clot turns into organized tissue called fibrocartilage which fills in the injured area. This tissue functions similar to native cartilage to restore joint function and minimize symptoms such as pain and swelling.
(Source: and
NEW TREATMENT: BioCartilage extracellular matrix was designed to provide a reproducible, simple and inexpensive method to supplement traditional microfracture procedures. According to Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. John Campbell, BioCartilage is a form of cartilage from cadavers that is processed and ground into a dust. It’s combined with cells from the patient, either from their peripheral blood or from their bone marrow. “We can take some of their cells, concentrate it and mix it with this cartilage material and use that to patch the hole,” says Dr. Campbell. BioCartilage functions as a tissue scaffold that the body’s cells can attach to and produce new reparative cartilage tissue in the defect site. A surgeon will clean the defect area, clearing out damaged tissue and use this scaffold in conjunction with microfracture as a way of providing attachment sites for the bone marrow cells. These cells will penetrate through the access channels to aid in the healing process. Most doctors recommend avoiding pressure on the area for about six weeks to allow that patch to start healing.
(Source: and Dr. John Campbell.)


Dan Collins

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know~to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

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