Cell-based therapy – Autologous chondrocyte implantation, a patch of cartilage defect made by the patient’s own chondrocytes.
Technically, doctors will take a tiny piece of healthy articular cartilage, around 200mg, size like a couple of small beans, from the non load-bearing surface. Chondrocytes will be isolated and expanded to a certain number, usually millions. And the cells will be transplanted back into the patient’s defect, and covered with periosteal flap. The patients can fully load the body weight and walk after 6 weeks of cell transplantation.
This is the original ACI technique, later the patch cover, periosteal flap, was switched to biomaterials, therefore it was also called matrix induced autologous chondrocyte implantation, MACI. In addition, it is one of the successful and classical examples of the application of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.