November 13, 2009

Orthopaedics debuts new Cartilage Center

Orthopaedics debuts new Cartilage Center

Vanderbilt Orthopaedics has formed the Vanderbilt Center for Cartilage Repair and Osteochondritis Dissecans Treatment, a center dedicated to treating cartilage disorders.

The Cartilage Center will offer procedures including:

• filling a defect with cells grown from a small piece of the patient's own cartilage (autologous chondrocyte implantation);

• moving cartilage and bone from one part of the knee to a defect in a more critical area (osteochondral autograft transfer);

• taking cartilage and bone from a cadaver donor to fill a large defect (osteochondral allograft transplantation);

• making small holes in the bone to stimulate cartilage growth (microfracture); and

• replacing the shock absorber in the knee with one from a cadaver donor (meniscal transplantation).

It will also specialize in the treatment of osteochondritis dissecans, a rare and misunderstood condition caused by a fragment of bone and cartilage separating. This results in pain, swelling and mechanical issues. About 75 percent of cases appear in the knee, and it occurs most often in active teens and young adults.

The Cartilage Center, formed within the Division of Sports Medicine, is directed by James Carey, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of

James Carey, M.D., M.P.H.

James Carey, M.D., M.P.H.

In addition to patient care, the center will be involved in research and education.

“Cartilage injuries can be frustrating problems for people, especially for the teens and athletes who get them most often,” Carey said. “In the knee, healthy cartilage is about 1,000 times more slippery than ice, which allows for the bones to glide past each other.

“Without this layer of cartilage, the bones rub against each other, resulting in arthritis if left untreated. Damaged cartilage generally does not grow back, so restoring this surface with the optimal treatment is very important. Patients have a higher chance of success if they undergo the proper treatment the first time.”

Carey received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and his Master of Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He completed a residency in orthopaedic surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and a fellowship in sports medicine and shoulder surgery at VUMC.

Appointments can be scheduled by calling 343-9430. Visit for more information.