Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Live Cartilage Preserved
A soccer player has received the first transplant of live cartilage into his repeatedly dislocated shoulder, thanks to two decades of
Cartilage is the connective tissue in joints and other body parts, and protects bones for smooth movement. It requires nutrients but cannot heal on its own if damaged, as it has no nerve endings or blood supply.
Dr. Mark Heard transplanted live cartilage into the shoulder of Jim Chebib, 45, during a two-hour procedure at
in March. Banff Springs Mineral Hospital
Chebib, an avid soccer player, said Thursday he now has full movement in a shoulder he had dislocated eight times in the last five years from cartilage damage.
"It sounded like a good solution because it's all natural and, really, I was happy to have the surgery so I could play soccer healthy again," he said.
Heard used cartilage — from a donor — that had been kept alive for 30 days using a preservation method developed by a team at Calgary's McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health.
"That gives us a window for when someone dies and donates their organs. That gives us a window of a month to find a match transplant to put their cartilage in," explained Heard.
Could expand for arthritis patients
"The result is a nearly seamless healing of the joint as the new tissue is incorporated into the existing bone," said Dr. Norman Schachar, program director of the joint transplantation program at the
. University of Calgary
There have been previous live cartilage transplants into knees, but this is the first such operation for shoulders and with the breathing room of 30 days.
"There is lots of work that is done with fresh frozen cartilage, but not live," Heard also pointed out.
Perfecting the preservation of live cartilage could allow surgeons to expand to transplanting it into hips, wrists and ankles, and eventually to help seniors with arthritis.
Heard has several more patients waiting for the same shoulder procedure, as part of a pilot project.