Scientists have recently reported the first ever successful nose reconstruction surgery using cartilage grown in the laboratory.
At the University of Basel in Switzerland, cartilage cells were taken from the patient's nasal septum, multiplied and expanded into a collagen membrane. This "engineered" cartilage was then shaped to remedy the problem and implanted into the patient.
A research team in Switzerland has reported that this type of construction is now possible, because they completed it.
The team used a method called "tissue engineering" where they use a patient's own cells to grow new cartilage. This was done on five new patients, all aged 76 to 88 years of age, who had severe defects in their nose after skin cancer surgery. One year following the surgery, each of the patients were completely satisfied with not only the appearance of their nose, but their ability to breathe as well. None even reported side effects.
The type of non-melanoma skin cancer that was investigated in this study is most commonly on the nose because of its excessive exposure to sunlight. To remove tumors completely, surgeons often have to cut away parts of the patient's cartilage. Usually, grafts for reconstruction are taken from the nasal septum, the ribs, or the ear and used to functionally reconstruct the nose. There were many complaints about this procedure, however, because it is very painful and invasive. It can also lead to complications at the site of surgery.
The research team from the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel has now developed an alternative approach. They extracted a small biopsy, isolated the cartilage cells, and then multiplied them. They then expanded cells into a collagen membrane and cultured them for two more weeks, which generated cartilage 40 times the size of the original biopsy.
These grafts were then shaped according to the defect on the nostril, and implanted.
According to a professor for tissue engineering at the University of Basel, "The engineered cartilage had clinical results comparable to the current standard surgery. This new technique could help the body to accept the tissue better and to improve stability and functionality of the nostril. The success of our procedure is based on long-standing, effective integration in Basel between our experimental group at the Department of Biomedicine and the surgical disciplines at the University Hospital. The method opens the way to using engineered cartilage for more challenging reconstructions in facial surgery, such as the complete nose, eyelid, or ear."
The same engineered grafts are currently being tested in a parallel study for cartilage repair in the knee.
As with any procedure, there are dangers to this one as well. While not widely accepted in the medical community as of yet, it is showing promising developments to come in the future for reconstructive surgery. Before you undergo any procedure, be sure to talk to your doctor. It is vital to know if your doctor is board-certified, and be sure to understand the risks involved before you go under the knife. Talk to our offices for more information on procedures today!