Steven Neufeld, MD, has spent his year focused on research into orthobiologic applications.
Dr. Neufeld, an orthopedic surgeon with the Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics in Bethesda, Md., spoke with Becker's about the studies and their implications for the industry.
Note: This response was lightly edited for clarity.
Question: Have you been involved in any interesting research lately? What are your findings?
Dr. Steven Neufeld: I am passionate about orthopedic research and serve as a member of the board of directors for the CAO Research Foundation, the nonprofit research organization of the Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics. I have recently been involved with two exciting research projects through the Foundation.
The first project involves taking live cartilage cells from a donor and transplanting them into a patient with cartilage damage in the ankle resulting from an injury. We keep the donor cartilage cells alive at -70 degrees Fahrenheit and then transplant the cartilage into the patient. Preliminary results of this study have been positive — we have studied this treatment on eight patients in a retrospective study, and are now treating 11 patients in a prospective study. Patients have reported less pain in six months, and we will continue to follow them to a year post-op. Cartilage damage is an early form of arthritis and can affect a patient's quality of life, so finding new ways to treat cartilage damage is an important cause. This is valuable research that can be used to treat athletes of any level who experience ankle and cartilage damage. We are the first to test this treatment in the ankle, and I'm glad to see positive results thus far.
The second research project I am working on involves using a synthetic ligament to reconstruct and rebuild a patient's torn ankle ligament. We have looked at data from more than 100 patients from our practice, and are now performing a prospective study specifically for patients with ankle sprains that require surgery. The synthetic ligament dissolves after a few years without any chance of rejection and leads to a quicker recovery with fewer complications. Athletes see a faster return to play through this treatment model.