LONDON, December 16 /PRNewswire/ -- An expert medical team at Spire Alexandra Hospital, Kent, is providing a groundbreaking treatment for cartilage defects - the first of its kind worldwide.

The Cartifill procedure is a revolutionary new operation which could benefit around 9,000 people in the UK each year - that's nine per cent of the 10,000* people who have cartilage injuries that warrant repair. The treatment replaces damaged cartilage with a specially developed purified atelocollagen gel, tailored for each individual patient.

The minimally-invasive procedure can be carried out as a day case, with a recovery time of up to six weeks. Alternative treatments involve at least three days in hospital and a minimum eight-week recovery.

The Cartifill procedure has been developed in partnership with UK's Spire Healthcare and South Korean bio-medical company, RMS (Regenerative Medical System), the leading international provider of stem cell harvesting and transplantation treatments.

Spire Healthcare's Director of Clinical Services, Dr Jean-Jacques de Gorter, explains: Spire Healthcare is committed to developing new procedures, helping to keep the UK at the forefront of medical provision on a global level. This ultimately results in our patients benefiting from less invasive interventions and quicker recovery.

We're already receiving referrals from doctors around the world wanting their patients to travel to the UK to undergo this procedure.

Dr Seok-jung Kim, Director of RMS and a recognised pioneer in the biotech field, says: The UK has an international reputation as being at the frontier in medical technology. RMS respects that medical intervention in the UK is vigorously regulated and, as a result, exceptionally high standards are maintained.

Cartifill requires surgical excellence, and it is also essential patients have support from a dedicated and experienced multi-disciplinary team of surgeons, theatre staff and physiotherapists, such as the fantastic team at Spire Alexandra.

Mr Anan Shetty, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Spire Alexandra Hospital is the only surgeon worldwide trained to carry out the Cartifill procedure. He says: This is a very exciting advancement in orthopaedic surgery - particularly knee surgery as the Cartifill technique is predominantly beneficial to patients with cartilage damage to the patella (knee cap).

There is no blood supply to cartilage so the body cannot generate new cells when it experiences cartilage injury. While the current chondral autograft has some excellent outcome results, it doesn't do well for treatment to the patella so this is an area where this new technique could revolutionise treatment of younger or particularly active patients in need of knee replacement.

Mr Shetty, Senior Lecturer at Kings' College, London, continues: The unique atelocollagen gel contains natural regenerative properties and uses natural biomaterials which makes it immunologically safe.

Spire Healthcare will be training consultant orthopaedic surgeons at other Spire Hospitals across the UK to carry out the procedure, which is covered by private medical insurers as well as being available for self-paying patients.

*Source: NICE guidelines - cartilage defects of the knee joints, May 2005

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SOURCE: Merchant Marketing Group

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