Cartiva – Cartilage Implant

A new solution for painful arthritis of the big toe

ONS orthopaedic foot surgeons Dr. Michael Clain and Dr. Sean Peden, are among the few in the country using a new synthetic cartilage implant to treat painful arthritis in the joint of the big toe (metatarsophalangeal or MTP joint).  The implant is composed of a bio-compatible, slippery organic polymer that functions similarly to natural cartilage. Patients who undergo this implant surgery experience reduced pain, functional improvement and improved range of motion in a much shorter period of time than with traditional procedures such as fusion surgery.

While fusing the joints in the big toe is a common and useful procedure to alleviate the rubbing of bone on bone that results from arthritis, it can inhibit the foot’s natural motion. With the new synthetic cartilage, the big toe is able to bend and bear weight similarly to a non-arthritic toe.

If one of our surgeons determines that this product will benefit you, the same day surgical procedure takes about 30 to 60 minutes. Your surgeon will make a two-inch incision along the top of the toe and remove a piece of the bone to make a space for the implant. The implant does not require glue or cement to stay in place.

Patients typically will be able to put weight on their toe immediately following surgery. Your surgeon will give you toe mobility exercises to help regain movement of your toe.  The synthetic cartilage is designed to last a lifetime, so ideally patients will not need to undergo a replacement procedure in the future. It was FDA approved for use in United States in July 2016, but the device has a long track record in Canada and Europe.

Synthetic cartilage implants may not be the right treatment for everyone, but the device certainly expands the options available for patients for relief of pain and return of function.  It is important to discuss your individual condition with your physician to understand the benefits and risks and any post operative limitations you may experience during the recovery process.  You can learn more about the synthetic cartilage implant by clicking on the brochure to the right.


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