Injured Athletes Can Return To Sports With Cartilage Transplant

Stating that cartilage injuries due to sports activities are treatable via cartilage transplantation from a donor, Orthopedics and Traumatology Specialist Prof. Dr. Gökhan Meriç said, "In a study conducted with NBA professional athletes who refrained from sports due to cartilage damage, it was shown that 80 percent of the athletes were able to return to sports life with their pre-injury performance after cartilage transplantation."

Cartilage Transplant and Cartilage Transplant

Pointing out that sports-related injuries are on the rise in our country, due to a recent increase towards sports, Yeditepe University Hospitals  Orthopedics and Traumatology Specialist Prof. Dr. Gokhan Meric said that one of the most common injuries is cartilage damage. Pointing out that very effective results can be achieved with cartilage transplantation for people who face this problem, Prof. Dr. Gökhan Meriç said that the return to sports, which is very important especially for professional athletes, is very fast after cartilage transplantation. He explained that successful results were achieved with this treatment, especially in young patients, in people with excessive cartilage damage, and in cases where other treatment methods failed.

Sports Injury Can Cause Cartridge Damage

Yeditepe University Koşuyolu Hospital Orthopedics and Traumatology Specialist Prof. Dr. Gökhan Meriç said, “Cartilage is the covering tissue that allows our joints to move freely. Especially after sports injuries, cartilage damage and injury may develop. If the person has cartilage damage that requires intervention, surgical intervention can be performed. However, in cases with extensive cartilage damage and other treatment methods unsuccessful, cartilage transplantation may be considered. In this way, situations such as serious calcification and prosthesis at a young age or later are prevented and the health of the joints is preserved”.

15-Year Chance of Success Is 85%

Stating that cartilage transplantation is a treatment that has been applied abroad for 30 years, Prof. Dr. Gökhan Meriç said, “The results of 10-15 years are shown in the literature. The 15-year success rate is 80-85 percent. After this treatment, patients need 3-4 weeks of physical therapy. He can return to his daily activities 5-6 weeks after the surgery. People may always have question marks such as 'Do I need a prosthesis' or 'Can we have prosthesis instead of cartilage transplant'. However, there is no such thing. Because cartilage transplantation can be performed in an injury that occurs only in one part of the knee. It should be preferred mostly in younger patients. In people under the age of 45-50, cartilage transplantation can be performed if only one area of the cartilage is damaged”.

Stating that other issues in the knee or within the patient’s body should also be observed, Prof. Dr. Gökhan Meriç said, “The patient should be checked for meniscus problem or curvature in his legs. Treating these problems before the transplant also increases the success of the cartilage transplant treatment”.

80 Percent of Patients Return To Sports Life With The Same Performance

Reminding that returning to sports is the biggest problem after sports injuries, especially in athletes, Prof. Dr. Gökhan Meriç said, “Transplantation can be performed in cases where cartilage damage develops and other treatment methods fail or the athlete cannot perform his/her previous performance sufficiently. Studies conducted especially among basketball players playing in the NBA (US Professional Basketball League) and professional athletes in other sports show that 80 percent of patients who are transplanted due to cartilage injury in the knee return to sports at the level before the injury. This is one of the most important indicators of cartilage transplant treatment”.

Emphasizing that the cartilage should be fused completely in order to return to sports in full performance, Yeditepe University Hospitals Orthopedics and Traumatology Specialist Prof. Dr. Gökhan Meriç said, “Returning to sports takes about 6-8 months. Since the patients have high performance expectations, their muscles should be strengthened and the transplant should be fully fused”.

Tissue Compatibility Is Not Required in Cartridge Transplantation

Reminding that cartilage transplantation from donor is a tissue transplantation like kidney and liver transplantation, Prof. Dr. Gökhan Meriç continued his words as follows: “Cartilage transplantation is the transplantation of cartilages taken from a donor under the age of 30 who have not developed any knee damage, to the damaged joint area of the patient. There is no need for any tissue or blood group compatibility for this. Because the cartilages are fed from our joint fluid, there is no such thing as incompatibility afterwards.”


20 February 2023

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