Surgical Frame Promotes Repair in Severe Knee OA
Joint distraction (the use of a surgical frame around a degenerated joint to strengthen and promote repair) promotes cartilage repair in severe end-stage osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, as demonstrated for the first time by data presented at the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism.
In the study, an external fixation frame with springs was used to bridge the knee joint in 19 relatively young osteoarthritis patients (<60 years). The frame was then distracted by 5 mm over a period of two months with the aim of promoting knee repair by removing mechanical stress on the knee. The functional ability and pain scores of the patients were poor before treatment, however following joint distraction, both scores increased to more than 80%, equivalent to almost complete normalization in terms of symptoms experienced.
MRI and digital x-ray evaluation carried out at baseline and at one year follow-up showed evidence of cartilage repair. Professor Floris Lafeber of the University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands, who led the study, said, "We are delighted to report such an impressive outcome in the use of joint distraction for severe osteoarthritis of the knee. Positive results have been sustained over the two year follow-up period, suggesting the potential for joint distraction to delay the need for a joint prosthesis in these relatively young patients. Our data are very promising, demonstrating the clinical efficacy and potential for structural repair. The logical next step should be the implementation of a prolonged prospective multi-centre study on the procedure."
This article was adapted from a press release issued by EULAR.