News July 2004 Issue

In The News: 07/04

‘Scaffolding’ Could Be Arthritis Breakthrough
Based on a recent procedure developed at the University of Missouri, the science of tissue engineering and biological stimulation is fast becoming one of the most important developments in orthopaedic medicine. And it may make osteoarthritis a thing of the past.

In most cases, patients who undergo surgery to repair a damaged knee, for example, end up experiencing arthritis as they grow older. When a portion of a torn meniscus—the cartilage that acts as the knee’s shock absorber—is removed, it cannot heal on its own. This leads, in later years, to arthritis.

Dr. James Cook, a professor of veterinary medicine at UM, has developed a “scaffolding” procedure that encourages the meniscus to repair itself, thus halting the progression of osteoarthritis. The scaffold, made of pig intestines and integrated with surrounding tissue, has the ability to capture a blood clot and, in effect, show the remaining tissue where it has to grow.

The procedure, currently used in human rotator-cuff repair, has so far been performed successfully on 300 dogs, with 90 percent of the meniscus growing back. It is expected to receive Food and Drug Administration approval for the first round of human surgeries this year.

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Gout: Wine Okay, But Cut The Beer
Alcohol—in any form— has traditionally been thought to be a major culprit in the onset of gout. But a 12-year study of more than 50,000 men has found that beer increased the risk of gout more than twice as much as other alcoholic drinks, even though its alcohol content is substantially less. More encouraging news for wine lovers was the finding that two or more four-ounce glasses of wine per day—red or white—did not increase the risk of gout.

The study, led by Dr. Hyon Choi of Harvard Medical School and reported in a recent issue of Lancet, concluded that the large purine content of beer may elevate uric acid in the blood, producing a greater risk of gout.

The scope of the study did not seek to determine whether there may be non-alcoholic risk factors involved in beer or joint-protective factors involved in wine.

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Shrinking? It May Be Time For A DXA Test
It’s natural to get shorter as you get older, but if you’ve lost more than two inches from your adult peak height, you may be at risk for osteoporosis and a fracture of the hip, wrist, or spine.

Dr. Seth Kantor, a rheumatologist at the Ohio State University Medical Center, found that elderly women in particular, who lack estrogen production in their later years, are susceptible to dramatic bone-density loss, and that a significant decrease in height can be a predictor of deteriorating bone health. He therefore recommends a DXA exam, a scan to determine bone-mineral density, as a follow-up to a height-comparison test that shows significant shrinkage.

Dr. Kantor’s study of more than 2,100 women was recently reported in the Journal of Clinical Densitometry.

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One-Two Punch For The Ulcer-Prone
The Food and Drug Administration recently gave its approval to Prevacid NapraPAC, the first drug package for arthritis sufferers who have developed stomach ulcers as a result of continued use of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). A combination of the NSAID naproxen (Naproysan, two pills per day) and the proton-pump inhibitor lansoprazole (Prevacid, one pill per day), the package works to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis while preventing gastrointestinal irritation.