"What does FAQ stand for?"

A frequently asked question.

What is Carticel?
Am I a candidate for Carticel even if I’ve undergone other treatments for knee pain?
I am 50 years old. Will Carticel work for me?
How long does it take to grow the cells?
What should I expect following my surgery?
Will I need physical therapy following this surgery?
When does physical therapy start?
What is a CPM machine?
When can I start playing sports again?
Is Carticel safe? Will my insurance pay for Carticel?
Can any surgeon treat me with Carticel?

What is Carticel?

Carticel is an FDA-approved biologic product used to repair articular cartilage injuries of the knee in adults who have not responded to a prior arthroscopic or other surgical repair procedure.
 
Carticel uses a biopsy of your own cartilage cells (chondrocytes) and multiplies them into millions of cells. These are later implanted into your knee cartilage defect in a surgical procedure called autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) where they will generate a repair tissue with properties like that of normal articular cartilage.
Carticel poses little risk of disease transmission to you since it comes from your own tissue.
Carticel is not indicated for the treatment of cartilage damage associated with generalized osteoarthritis.

Am I a candidate for Carticel even if I’ve undergone other treatments for knee pain?

Yes. Carticel is actually indicated for patients who have had an inadequate response to a prior surgical repair procedure.
If you are still experiencing pain and swelling in your knee, and you are limiting your daily activities, you may be a candidate for Carticel. 
Talk to an experienced orthopedist specifically trained in the treatment of cartilage defects using the Carticel Orthopedist locator tool to find out.

Am I too old for Carticel to work for me?

Carticel has not been tested in children or in patients over age 65, and Carticel is not indicated for treating osteoarthritis.

How long does it take to grow the cells?

After your biopsy is taken, it is sent to Vericel’s FDA-licensed and regulated cell therapy manufacturing facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts for processing.
After your biopsy arrives at the facility, it is processed and then cryopreserved awaiting the scheduling of your implantation procedure. You and your surgeon will determine when the time is right for your implantation procedure.
Once your implantation procedure is scheduled, your biopsy is removed from cryopreservation.  The cartilage cells (chondrocytes) undergo the final culturing (multiplying) phase which is timed to be completed a few days prior to your implantation procedure.
In total, it takes about 3 to 5 weeks for the cells from your biopsy to increase to approximately 12-48 million cells (1-4 vials).

What should I expect following my implantation surgery?

For the first few days, as with any surgery, it may be hard for you to move around and you will experience some pain, which medication may help to control.

Will I need physical therapy following this surgery?

Yes, you will need to follow a rehabilitation program; your doctor and physical therapist will design a program for you based on the size, location, and severity of your cartilage injury.
Of course, rehabilitation requires dedication, but once you get through it, you should be able to enjoy a long-lasting, positive clinical outcome. It’s worth the investment!

When does physical therapy start?

Depending on your cartilage injury, you will begin using a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine within 6 to 24 hours after your implantation procedure. Additional therapy programs vary from patient to patient.

What is a CPM machine?

The CPM (continuous passive motion) machine allows the knee to move without engaging muscles. During recovery, using a CPM machine is important as it provides a favorable environment for the cells to grow, as well as reducing the likelihood of the knee joint becoming stiff. Studies have shown that using CPM following articular cartilage repair improves patient outcomes.1

When can I start playing sports again?

You and your doctor will decide when you are ready to return to sports. Depending on the size and location of your cartilage injury and your rehabilitation, you may resume low impact activity such as swimming, cycling, and skating as early as 6 months following treatment.
You may perform high impact sports such as jogging, running, and aerobics at 8 to 9 months for smaller injuries or 9 to 12 months for larger injuries.
High impact, pivoting sports such as basketball, football, baseball, or tennis may compromise the durability of the repair and should generally not occur until 12 to 18 months post-treatment after discussing with your physician.
For more information, please refer to the rehabilitation page. Individual results may vary depending on what specific sport you are contemplating playing. Not all patients return to full activity.

Is Carticel safe?

Carticel poses little risk of disease transmission to you since it comes from your own tissue. As with any surgical procedure, there are important safety considerations to keep in mind. Complications after surgery, such as symptoms of catching, locking, and pain, can sometimes occur. 
Occasionally, Carticel generates repair tissue a little too well and your surgeon may need to perform a follow-up procedure—most often arthroscopic—to trim cartilage overgrowth. According to our STAR Study, subsequent procedures were common, occurring in 49% of patients.

Will my insurance pay for Carticel?

Most insurance plans cover the cost of Carticel. Check with your plan administrator or call 800-453-6948, Option #2, to speak with a Carticel Care® Coordinator who is an expert on this matter.
Your Coordinator will do everything possible to help ensure the approval process is easy and smooth for you, your physician, and his or her staff.

Can any orthopedist treat me with Carticel?

Only experienced orthopedists with extensive training in diagnosing and assessing cartilage injuries of the knee that have clinical expertise with Carticel may perform the treatment. Find a Carticel Orthopedist in your area using our Carticel Orthopedist locator tool.

1. Salter RB. The biological concept of continuous passive motion of synovial joints: The first 18 years of basic research and its clinical application. In: Ewing JW, ed. Articular Cartilage and Knee Joint Function. New York, NY: Raven Press; 1990.