A new biomedical polymer implant that mimics the characteristics of articular cartilage could help relieve pain from toe arthritis.
According to medical experts, the Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant (SCI) is designed to help patients who are dealing with painful arthritis at the base of their big toe. Oftentimes the only treatment options are to cope with discomfort with the aid of pain medications or to pursue a joint fusion operation, but researchers believe the cartilage implant may provide a new avenue for pain relief.
The implant is made of an organic polymer-based biomaterial comprised of 40 percent polyvinyl alcohol and saline. The design of the polymer provides a compressible, low-friction and durable substance that mimics the attributes of of human cartilage.
How It Works
The implant is inserted into the joint during a short surgical procedure. Because the advanced technology in the material so closely mimics healthy adult cartilage, joint resurfacing repairs using the implant does not require replacement of the opposing articular surface. Additionally, the procedure does not require the removal of a significant amount of healthy tissue, which results in less trauma to the patient and an expedited recovery period.
As we mentioned above, the procedure isn’t too comprehensive, as it only takes about 30-40 minutes to complete. Better yet, unlike toe fusion, patients can bear weight immediately after the procedure.
Clinical trials have proven to be quite successful. In a small 236 person clinical trial, patients in the SCI group reported a 93 percent reduction in median pain and a 168 percent improvement in median pain function during sporting activities. Patients also noted a 65 percent improvement in pain reduction during daily living activities and a 26 percent increase in range of motion compared to their baseline scores.
“Before Cartiva SCI, the options we could provide to patients with osteoarthritis of the great toe were limited, as the fusion procedure often necessitates sacrificing range of motion to get pain relief,” said Mark Glazebrook, MD, of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Canada. “Due to the simplicity of the procedure, speed of recovery and range of motion benefits, I see that patients are relieved to have this option available to them, and the majority are electing Cartiva over fusion.”