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Viscosupplementation

The natural lubricating fluid of the knee is a material called hyaluronate. This material is produced by the synovial lining of the knee and is a clear, oily substance. Unfortunately, in arthritis, the lubricating fluid becomes thin and inadequate. Interestingly, the hyaluronate salt is found in the comb of roosters.

In the mid 1990s, this material was harvested from specially raised roosters, and studies began with regard to its use in the human knee. At The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Dr. Clyburn performed some of the original Phase 3, FDA-approved studies utilizing this material. The material was found to perform as expected, and FDA approval was obtained.

Subsequently, at least four different preparations are now available. Dr. Clyburn commonly uses this material in order to lubricate knees that are wearing out. He often makes the analogy that this is similar to oiling a hinge on a door which is nearly worn out. When the hinge is rusty and worn and "squeaking," although it is known that it must ultimately be replaced, oiling it regularly may make it last longer. Ultimately, this is what is trying to be done with the knee that is nearly worn out. Even though it is known that the patient will need a knee replacement, it is hoped that this procedure can be postponed.

Watch the Channel 11 (Houston) newcast report featuring Dr. Terry Clyburn and the viscosupplementation technique.

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