Tearing one’s meniscus, the C-shaped cartilage that acts as a cushion between the shin and thigh bones, is a common sports injury and can “almost guarantee early-onset osteoarthritis and eventual knee replacement,” the New York Post reports. But, the Post adds, surgeons now have access to a device, newly approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which promises to both mitigate arthritis risk and the necessity of knee replacement.
The Post story tracks a 40-something Staten Island law enforcement agent named Charles Proscio, whose martial arts training ended with a meniscus tear. After Proscio switched to running, he was still plagued by the injury, so he sought this new kind of meniscus repair surgery in February 2016. Eight months later, the Post reports, he is able to run again.
Proscio’s surgeon, Jaspreet Sekhon, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at The Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, told the newspaper that meniscus repairs have been around for a long time, but the procedures targeted only particular sorts of tears. The relatively new device, Ceterix NovoStitch, allows doctors to fix tears that had previously been off limits for surgery, Dr. Sekhon said.
“The new technology tends to a variety of tears by making a stitch that goes around the meniscus, rather than through it, providing more uniform compression to aid in healing,” according to the Post’s Hannah Sparks. Dr. Sekhon told Sparks that the ideal patient for the procedure has healthy knees; if the knees are already arthritic, “the cat’s already out of the bag,” he said.
The new procedure hasn’t yet generated much press attention beyond the Post article and a story in April 2017 from Healio, which was based on a Ceterix press release about the FDA clearance. But orthopedic surgeons have been tweeting about it.
Chris Dougherty, DO, an orthopedic surgeon whose website identifies him as the official physician of the Kansas City Royals, has often shared videos of using NovoStitch on his Twitter account. “Excellent and stable repair construct. Very nice work with the NovoStitch Plus by Dr. Dougherty, as always,” another sports medicine surgeon responded to one of Dougherty’s tweets.
Brett Owens, MD, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon in Providence, Rhode Island, told CreakyJoints he has used NovoStitch in his practice. “It is another arrow in the quiver for meniscus surgeons,” he says. “It is not ideal for every repair, and there are some cost issues with this device, however it can make some challenging repairs easier.”
In the Post article, Dr. Sekhon cautioned that patients who undergo the procedure are still at risk of developing arthritis “just by virtue of having had the tear in the first place.” The procedure, however, could delay arthritis onset, he said.
The Post adds that the procedure costs more than $5,000, which most insurance providers cover, but recovery can take up to half a year. “I always tell my patients it’s longer now, but it can save your knee for the long term,” Dr. Sekhon told the Post. However, the paper added that some surgeons think it’s premature to hail the procedure as a success or even as on par with prior methods.
Learn the answers to the most common questions about joint replacement here.