Researchers in the U.K. have discovered an elegantly simple solution to lower orthopedic surgery patients’ risk of osteoarthritis: sugar. More specifically, sugar mixed into the saline solution surgeons use to clean joints.
People who have operations for joint injuries or other joint problems are at a greater risk of osteoarthritis, since such surgeries can destroy cartilage cells. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage in the joints breaks down, causing bones to grind together. This study found that mixing sugar to saline cleaning solution can protect the cartilage and help it regenerate.
“Our findings could have major implications for tens of thousands of people who undergo arthroscopic surgery,” said Dr. Andrew Hall, leader of the study. “There is a worry that all these people are at risk of developing osteoarthritis from their surgery. But if surgeons can be persuaded to use this chondroprotective solution as standard that risk could be substantially reduced. It’s a cheap, simple solution that can protect the cartilage in the joint.”
He calls sugary saline solution “chondroprotective” because it protects cartilage cells called chondrocytes.
Dr. Stephen Simpson, research director at Arthritis Research UK, which funded the study, said, “It’s extraordinary that something as simple as sugar solution can have such a beneficial protective effect on the joints during surgery.”
Read about more groundbreaking orthopedic research on the Shrock Orthopaedics blog, and take a look at some of our ongoing clinical research opportunities.