John Cronin, 65 from West Sussex had always enjoyed an active lifestyle including playing football in his younger years, and more recently, long walks with his wife Josie.

However, he says this all started changing when he began to feel pain in his knees. “In my early 50’s I started to experience pain, even when getting out of a chair. It gradually got so bad, I was unable to go on walking holidays with my wife and had very disturbed sleep.”

After visiting his GP, John was referred to Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Dinesh Nathwani at The London Clinic. Mr Nathwani ordered an MRI scan and this showed John had tears to cartilage in both knees, probably caused from his earlier days of playing football frequently.

Mr Nathwani performed keyhole surgery to help repair the damaged cartilage, drilling into both knees to stimulate the cartilage to grow. Although this lessened the pain, John still continued to experience an uncomfortable feeling in his right knee. Mr Nathwani explains: “John’s cartilage in his right knee had worn away in two areas, causing the bone to grind directly on bone. These two patches were early signs of arthritis.”

After hearing similar stories from friends, John assumed a total knee replacement would be the only solution, and was concerned about having major surgery and the potentially long recovery time. He says: “I was so worried over the thought of a knee replacement. However, Mr Nathwani told me about a trial through The London Clinic’s Advanced Therapies Centre which meant that instead of replacing the entire knee joint, he could just repair the damaged patches of cartilage and bone.”

The London Clinic’s Advanced Therapies Centre (ATC) manages clinical trials for drugs and patient programs for unlicensed medicines, which means it can offer cutting-edge technology. Through the ATC, Mr Nathwani was able to repair John’s knee using BioPoly, a small oval shaped patch to help cushion the joint and protect the bone.

Mr Nathwani explains; “BioPoly was developed in the US in 2010 and uses a patch with a metal back to adhere to the bone, and a smooth front made of polyethylene and hyaluronic acid, making it slippery like cartilage.”

The procedure involved Mr Nathwani performing an arthroscopy (keyhole surgery to help him identify the damaged area in John’s knee.) He then put a pin in the centre as a marker and drilled out the damaged area of cartilage to encourage new healthy cartilage to grow over the implant. Mr Nathwani says: “I then press the BioPoly implant into this gap and tap it into place with a small hammer. New bone will grow into the implant, anchoring it.”

John had the procedure in October 2012, taking only one hour. He says: “I have had no signs of arthritis since the surgery and am now able to kick a football about with my grandsons and have been on some long walks in Cumbria and the South Downs with my wife.”