Innovative knee surgery available in Knox for younger patients

Innovative knee surgery available in Knoxville for younger patients

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Ashley Teets, 30, of Sevier County, is walking these days without pain. Ashley Teets, 30, of Sevier County, is walking these days without pain.
Recently, she paid a visit to Tennessee Orthopaedic Clinics in Knoxville to show her surgeon how well she continues to do with the right knee he repaired. Recently, she paid a visit to Tennessee Orthopaedic Clinics in Knoxville to show her surgeon how well she continues to do with the right knee he repaired.
Dr. Mike Casey decided Teets was a good candidate for treatment called Carticel. The breakthrough technique uses the patient's own cells to help grow new cartilage. Dr. Mike Casey decided Teets was a good candidate for treatment called Carticel. The breakthrough technique uses the patient's own cells to help grow new cartilage.

By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - When you hear about knee surgery, you might think about people in their fifties or sixties. However, there is an innovative option for much younger patients with painful knee problems not helped by traditional procedures.

The treatment uses the body's own cells to get people back to their normal routines.

Ashley Teets, 30, of Sevier County, is walking these days without pain.

Recently, she paid a visit to Tennessee Orthopaedic Clinics in Knoxville to show her surgeon how well she continues to do with the right knee he repaired.

Teets says she'll never forget the pain she endured as an athlete for years before the procedure. She played basketball for the University of South Florida and played through the pain.

"It was keeping me up at night. I couldn't get up and down out of a chair, just felt like a knife stabbing through my knee joint," she said.

Dr. Mike Casey, Orthopaedic Surgeon with T.O.C., says the cartilage in Teets' knee had worn away.

"She had basically a divot where the cartilage was completely gone in the area, about the size of a 50 cent piece," Dr. Casey demonstrated, using a model of a human knee.

Dr. Casey decided Teets was a good candidate for treatment called Carticel. The breakthrough technique uses the patient's own cells to help grow new cartilage.

First, the cells are extracted from the patient's knee area, then sent off to a lab in Boston where the cells are reproduced.

Within a few weeks, the new cells are sent to the doctor's office, and it's time for the second step in the procedure as the cells are injected into the affected knee.

"You're taking an individual's tiny little piece of cartilage, producing it, then putting cartilage back in the knee to fill the area where the defect currently is," Dr. Casey explained.

Because it started with the patient's own cells, the new knee cartilage is about as close as possible to the cartilage the patient was born with.

It's been four years since Teets' surgery. It meant eight weeks on crutches and a year of physical therapy to follow, but she says it was worth it.

"I can do anything on it," she said. "It doesn't bother me at all."

Carticel is primarily for teens through people age 50. Dr. Casey says the ability to re-grow cells after that age isn't as effective.

The treatment is approved by most insurance companies.

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