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AAMC Participates in National Research, Cures Patient’s Knee Pain

Christopher Bell first injured his knee playing tennis nine years ago. Seven years and two surgeries later, he was still in pain, and his options were narrowing. Fortunately, a new study at the AAMC Research Institute brought state-of-the art treatment to the Annapolis resident that no one else in the region could offer him.

After his injury, one of the bones in Christopher’s knee had developed what doctors called small potholes. They caused enough pain that he could no longer play tennis. Microfracture surgery, which involves drilling into the pot holes to encourage scar tissue growth provided nearly two years of relief. But when the pain returned, his only other option was a partial knee replacement.

“I went to three other doctors,” Christopher said, “including the orthopedic doctor for the Baltimore Ravens, and it was either quit playing tennis or have a partial knee replacement.” That’s when Thomas Harries, M.D., at Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center offered him another option. Through the AAMC Research Institute, Dr. Harries was participating in a national study of a new procedure called HemiCap joint resurfacing. It’s an outpatient procedure that has been used in Europe for four years, and is now being evaluated for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in the U.S.

“A hemi cap is a small metal implant that restores the joint surface and keeps the joint from deteriorating further,” said Dr. Harries. “It’s like filling a pothole in the road. If you don’t fill it, it’s just going to get worse and worse.” The metal implants provide a permanent solution to this kind of chronic knee pain and preserve the healthy portion of the knee. Dr. Harries said 30 or 40 other institutions participated in the study, and after two years of patient follow up, the procedure is in review by the FDA.

“It’s not available to the general public yet,” Dr. Harries said. “For me, being involved in the research end means an opportunity to gain more knowledge of these cutting edge procedures and the different products out there. It benefits your patients to have a physician who is keeping up with the modern technology and involved in developing it.”

Christopher is walking proof of those benefits. His knee feels great, and he plays tennis every Thursday night. “It was absolutely surprising that I was able to be part of the study and have this cutting edge procedure at Anne Arundel medical center right here in Annapolis.”

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