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Life in Motion

Can a New, Investigational Cartilage Tissue Implant Made from a Patient’s Own Cells Potentially Improve Outcomes and Recovery Time After Cartilage Injury in The Knee?

Medical Science

Knee Cartilage Injury Can cause severe joint pain and may worsen to become a chronic condition called arthritis.

In your joints, the ends of your bones are covered with articular cartilage, which is a tough, shock absorbing tissue that allows for joint mobility. This cartilage can become damaged from playing sports, a traumatic injury, and normal wear and tear. Damaged cartilage has a limited ability to heal itself, and if left untreated, can worsen and lead to arthritis.

Current Standard of Care for Cartilage Repair in the Knee

The current gold-standard of treatment of cartilage injury in the knee is the so called microfracture technique. This procedure involves surgically creating tiny holes in the bone beneath the cartilage defect to stimulate new cartilage growth. While microfracture is successful for many people, the new cartilage made as a result of the surgery is not as strong as the body’s original cartilage. In addition, recovery from microfracture surgery can be slow with up to 6-8 weeks on crutches and approximately 6 months of rehabilitation.

New Technology Being Developed

New England Baptist Hospital surgeon and recognized cartilage expert Dr. Kai Mithoefer is leading innovative research that offers patients access to advanced cartilage repair technology that is currently being tested to determine if an investigational cartilage tissue implant made from patient’s own cartilage cells will improve outcomes and recovery time for certain knee cartilage injuries. Earlier safety studies using this novel tissue implant have demonstrated convincing preliminary evidence that this cartilage implant made from patient’s own cartilage is safe with no serious side effects.

How it Works

  • The surgeon first harvests a small, normal cartilage sample from a non-weight bearing area in a patient’s knee via a minimally invasive knee arthoscopy.
  • The cartilage sample is treated in a laboratory under special conditions that allow new cartilage cells to grow from the patient’s own tissue sample. 
  • The patient’s own cells are combined with a collagen scaffolding to form the investigational cartilage implant, called NeoCart®. Production of the implant takes approximately 6 to 9 weeks before it is ready to be implanted into a patient’s knee.
  • After the implant is checked for safety and quality it is sculpted to fit the cartilage injury site in the patient’s knee.
  • Through a minimally invasive surgical procedure the investigational NeoCart implant is placed in the patient’s cartilage defect site and glued into place with a special bioadhesive.
  • The patient will then begin a rehabilitation period as prescribed by the study protocol.

Preliminary Study Results

The current Phase 3 study is still in the early stages, however, data from previous studies indicate that NeoCart provides reduction of pain and durable improvement of knee function in patients with cartilage injury in the knee. Additionally, the previous studies show that recovery time on crutches can often be reduced in patients treated with Neocart.

Important: Patients with arthritis or advanced cartilage damage in the knee are not eligible for the Neocart study.

More information about the NeoCart studies are available at (key word: NeoCart).

To learn more and find out if you qualify for this research study, visit You may also contact the NeoCart Contact Center at 1.855.9.NEOCART or send an email at for more information.

If you are interested and qualified to participate in this study please contact Dr. Mithoefer’s office for an appointment.

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