Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI)

What is autologous chrondrocyte implantation?

Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) is a relatively new, state-of-the-art procedure used to treat isolated full-thickness (down to bone) articular cartilage defects of the knee. It has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for cartilage defects located at the end of the femur bone (thigh). ACI has also been performed for defects of the patella (kneecap) in addition to other joints of the body. ACI is a two-stage operative procedure.

Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI)

How does ACI work?

The first procedure is performed arthroscopically in less than 30 minutes. The surgeon will harvest a small piece of articular cartilage from the patient’s knee, typically the size of one or two Tic-Tacs. This cartilage biopsy is then sent to a laboratory where the biopsy is enzymatically treated in order to isolate the chondrocytes, which are the cartilage-producing cells of the body. Once these chondrocytes are obtained, they are then expanded in number and sent back to the surgeon approximately 6 to 8 weeks later for implantation.

Is ACI covered by insurance?

Many insurance companies will cover ACI surgery if it is deemed medically necessary. Please contact us to find out if this procedure is covered by your insurance plan.

How quickly can I get back to my regular routine after ACI surgery?

The full restoration period after ACI surgery is 18 months. You will be allowed to be full weight bearing 6-8 weeks after surgery. You will need to wait 9-12 months before running again.

Are there any side effects with ACI surgery?

Bruising, pain and swelling are the most common side effects after ACI surgery. More serious complications are very rare.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact West Coast Orthopedics.

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