Groundbreaking knee surgery restores damaged cartilage

Published: Mar. 6, 2019 at 1:04 PM EST
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Vermont is now the home of what doctors are calling a potentially groundbreaking knee surgery -- one of only 17 centers in the entire country.

It's back to fun outside with the kids for Keri-Anne Lesure. More than a year ago, the Jeffersonville mom of two participated in a clinical trial knee surgery -- the first patient in Vermont to do so to help repair damaged knee cartilage.

"It was definitely a lot of work to gain strength back in my knee. I would say that was the biggest thing is. I was on crutches for so long, my quad needed to be strengthened again," Lesure said.

The avid snowboarder says the initial injury could have come from her time on the slopes, and it was causing her pain even after a procedure in 2016 tried to create cartilage. So in November 2017, doctors drilled a hole in her knee allowing cells to pour in while also filling the gap with a hydro gel. Between six months to a year the hydro gel deteriorates and the cells that grew over time become a type of cartilage, hopefully replacing what was once there.

"Thus far, the preliminary results are very encouraging and thus far showing some high success level with this technique compared to a standard microfracture," said Dr. Brian Huber with Mansfield Orthopedic at Copley Hospital. He says it's showing promise, But Lesure will need to get MRIs over five years to check her progress.

"I actually really enjoy getting the MRIs because then I get to actually see what the repair looks like and you can definitely see that something has filled the hole where my cartilage is missing," Lesure said.

Now she is able to get back on the slopes -- with a little hesitation. "I was pretty nervous, but we just went up on a little bunny slope and it was great to just be up there again and knowing that my knee was better," she said.

"Dr. Huber says there are no long term fixes to cartilage breaking down, so doctors are hoping this procedure could be a game changer for cartilage repair.

A clinical trial is currently underway across the U.S. to support a new treatment option for millions of Americans with knee pain caused by damaged articular cartilage. To be eligible for the clinical study, you must be between the ages of 18 and 50 and have pain in only one knee. There also are additional criteria. If you have knee pain caused by damaged articular damage and would like to be considered for the study, visit or call (833) 430-8686.

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