Chicago doctor claims new procedure replaces major surgery

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - What if you could have the benefit of a total knee replacement, without going under the knife? A Chicago surgeon is performing a new procedure that he says can delay, and possibly even eliminate, joint replacements while avoiding major surgery.

"I’m very active, I do a lot of things," said 60-year-old Sue Shuftan.

And that's one reason Shuftan is about to undergo a subchondroplasty on her left knee. Her other reason? When she had her right knee replaced 7 years ago, things didn't go quite so well.

"It wasn't a positive experience," she said.

So when sue felt her left knee starting to fail, she decided to look for other options.

"We researched some different doctors," she said.

Sue found doctor Mitchell Sheinkop at The Center for Orthobiologics in Chicago and Des Plaines.

A seasoned orthopedic surgeon, who spent 37 years at Rush University Medical Center, Doctor Sheinkop now specializes in subchondroplasty, which is a procedure that involves injecting the knee with calcium phosphate or a bone substitute.                                                                                                                                        

"It really in the knee gets rid of their pain quickly, as well as in the hip, shoulder and ankle," Dr. Sheinkop said.

But this is not your typical subchondroplasty, because Doctor Sheinkop has developed a new method.

Instead of injecting calcium phosphate into the bone, Dr. sheinkop injects bone marrow aspirate stem cells taken from the patient's own pelvis. He believes injecting stem cells could be more effective and accelerate bone healing, maybe even regenerate cartilage.

"In a younger patient, maybe re-grow cartilage is realistic. In a more senior patient, maybe not. But quality of life, activity, function, is a realistic expectation and outcome," Dr. Sheinkop said.

The end result is like that of a total joint replacement, but without major surgery.

"To relieve their symptoms from arthritis, to improve their quality of life, and to help them get off medications," the doctor said.

Sue’s procedure took about an hour and a half, no hospital stay, and she should be off crutches in about 2 days.

With some minor physical therapy, Sue can return to the activities she loves.

"I enjoy hiking, biking, and I box," she said.

Dr. Sheinkop says because subchondroplasty is fairly new, only about two years old, time will tell how long the joints will hold up following the procedure.

However, he says there is enough evidence to prove this procedure can help even the most extreme patients avoid major surgery.