MACI knee

UK orthopaedic surgeon performs first knee surgery of its kind in Kentucky

Christian Lattermann, MD

Dr. Christian Lattermann, director of UK’s Center for Cartilage Repair and Restoration in UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, recently became the first surgeon in Kentucky and in the Midwest to perform a Matrix Associated Chondrocyte Implantation (MACI). The procedure is a less invasive version of cartilage repair surgery that allows patients to recover more quickly. The technology for this new procedure is the first new cartilage technology to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1996.

A different approach to cartilage repair

The MACI technology uses a patient’s own cartilage cells to create the MACI scaffold which, unlike preceding technology, can be glued into the cartilage defect. That means this procedure can be done through smaller incisions, which Lattermann said offers a significant improvement in operating time as well as an easier path to recovery for patients. The MACI technology is new in the U.S. but has an almost 10-year track record in Europe, with excellent results.

On Feb. 15, Victoria Long was the first patient to receive this treatment at UK. An 18-year-old student who had suffered from a cartilage loss in the knee as a consequence of multiple falls onto her knee cap, Long had been experiencing pain for more than a year and had been receiving nonoperative treatment during that time. At her follow-up appointment on Feb. 21, she was recovering from the surgery and was excited to begin the recovery process.

While the procedure is new, Lattermann is familiar with it. Over the past 10 years, he has helped advance the MACI technology through regulatory agencies and receive FDA approval. During that time, he has performed more than 150 Autologous Chondrocyte Implantations, a less sophisticated version of the MACI procedure.

Becoming a major referral center

When Lattermann joined UK Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine a decade ago, he was tasked by Dr. Darren Johnson, chair of UK Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, and UK Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Dr. Michael Karpf, with building the Center for Cartilage Repair and Restoration. The goal was to make UK a referral center for complex and difficult-to-treat injuries in patients at the crossroads between joint restoration and joint replacement.

“We have been on the forefront of treating these defects for several years,” Lattermann said. “Every year, a couple of thousand patients in the U.S. require a true cartilage restoration, and we have become a major referral center for these patients and, at this point, regularly serve patients from Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and parts of Ohio and Indiana.”

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