“I’m able to walk around this entire place,” Patrick Hutchins said. “I’m able to go hiking again.”
Something Hutchins wasn’t able to do without being in pain. The active life he was use to got out on hold after hurting his left knee walking in between college classes two years ago.
“I just kind of stumbled and finally fell, did a roll, as that was the safest route to take at that time,” Hutchins said. “Did not realize that when I hit the ground [my left] leg kind of whipped over and kind of slammed and hit the ground.”
Hutchins actually didn’t realize how bad his knee was until a few days later.
“I had a torn meniscus and then later on I discovered I had gauged a lot of cartilage out of my knee,” Hutchins said.
Hutchins was referred to OrthoArizona sports medicine specialist Dr. Shelden Martin.
He took a look at the injury and determined Hutchins was a good candidate for a cartilage transplant.
“I was actually in my [fellowship] training in 2010 at OrthoCarolina and we were one of the test centers for this [cartilage procedure],” Martin said. “It’s [also] recently been FDA approved in the last few years.”
When cartilage is damaged, whether through a sports injury or how Hutchins hurt his knee, the body has a hard time healing this type of tissue on its own.
This particular procedure called DeNovo Cartilage Transplant is something that if [patients] failed non-operative treatments and they’re a good candidate for the procedure, you have to get them scheduled because it’s based on donors,” Martin said.
The healthy donors cartilage, which is from someone 12 years of age or younger, is harvested and when done it’s ready to be transplanted into the patient to help regenerate new tissue.
“Typically [I] start with an arthroscopic procedure and then convert to an open procedure depending on how big the lesion is and where it’s in the knee,” Martin said. “It then involves removing some of the processing fluid on these cartilage wafers and then mixing it up with a fiber glue substance and over 15 minutes that fiber glue will become a hard type substance.”
“You can actual pack that into the area of the lesion that you’re going to be transplanting the cartilage into,” Martin continued.
Martin had to repair Hutchins’ torn meniscus first and after months of recovery, he performed the cartilage transplant in December 2015.
“[The doctor] had my leg in a brace and it was immobilized for a couple months,” Hutchins said. “Once that took place and he took the brace off, unfortunately my tendons started to shorten up and I had to go back in for another procedure.
“He then scoped [my knee] to clean everything up,” Hutchins continued.
Hutchins went through rehab and was back to his active life, pain free last September.
“We’re still learning the best candidates for this procedure, but certainly our numbers are growing as we find more patients that are good candidates,” Martin said. “It’s technically an easier procedure then some of the prior cartilage transplants procedures.”
“To be part of this and for the results to turn out like they have, I’m ecstatic about it,” Hutchins said.