Narrator: This is Science Today. Cartilage
transplantation is offering young, active patients
with damaged knee and ankle joints an alternative
to total joint replacement. William Bugbee, a professor
of orthopedics at the University of California,
San Diego, says they've been using this technique,
known as fresh osteochondral allografting, since
Bugbee: The reason there's been so much interest
in this program that we've had for so long is that
this is sort of a new frontier in orthopedics -
treatment of cartilage lesions. Now, there are different
treatments that can be used for smaller lesions
in the knee, but the allografting, the actual transplantation
is really the best option for people with bigger
problems in their knee.
Narrator: Because cartilage has no blood
supply, the match is for size only. Once in place,
the donor cartilage knits to the patient's own to
form a stable bond.
Bugbee: We're operating on people in their
teens and twenties. What's going to happen to them
when they're forty or fifty? Is this going to prevent
them from the inevitable arthritis? That's an unanswered
question. But this is the best way to return them
to essentially normal functioning during their active
years and that's what's so important to them.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.