Gateshead rods are tiny carbon fibre rods inserted into drill holes on damaged joint cartilage.
The philosophy is that the drill holes (Pridie drilling) expose the joint surface to the underlying bone marrow, from which undifferentiated 'stem' cells migrate to the surface and turn themselves into new fibrocartilage to heal the defect. The rods are meant to act as a scaffold, helping to direct the movement of the stem cells to the surface.
Pridie's early procedure of drilling the joint cartilage to promote healing (one of the procedures now known as chondroplasty) is seldom done now, as the drill heat and the bone debris caused problems,. but the idea has continued in the newer procedure of microfracture.
Carbon fibre was in vogue as an orthopaedic implant material in the 1980s, due to its strength and biocompatibility. Ligaments, ligament fixation devices and other implants were constructed from the material, but most of them have been superceded by new innovations. Carbon fibre rods have likewise largely faded into history.
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