Innovative therapy to help young people with damaged hip joints

Local doctors have invented a new therapy to transplant cartilage from patients' ribs onto damaged hip-joint cartilage, with teens and young adults the major benefactors.

Local doctors invented a new therapy to transplant cartilage from patients' ribs onto damaged hip-joint cartilage, with teens and young adults the major benefactors.

Cartilage is an important part of the joint, which covers it and allows for free movement. Previously, the only solution for people with cartilage damage on hip joints was artificial joint replacement, since cartilage damage can’t be repaired.

Teenagers must wait until they are around 20 years old to receive the replacement surgery, while young people must receive more surgery after the first artificial joint expires, as the life span of artificial joints is only 20 years.

“We received many teenagers and young adults with cartilage damage on their hip joints due to trauma and joint infection. They can’t stretch their legs and can’t walk freely if they don't receive artificial joint replacement,” Dr Zhang Changqing from Shanghai No.6 People’s Hospital said. 

“We found that the structure of cartilage on the ribs is the same as joint cartilage, so we remove the damaged hip joint cartilage and replace it with a part of cartilage from the patient’s own rib to improve joint function. We have adopted the therapy to treat a dozen patients and all reported good results.”

He said patients with the new therapy can stretch their injured joints and walk like normal people, all while avoiding hip joint replacement.

“For young people, their rib cartilage can grow by itself. There is no negative impact to patients,” Zhang said.

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