Newswise — (Baltimore, MD) – Earlier this October 2016, Mercy Medical Center became the first hospital in Maryland to utilize the new Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant (SCI) in a surgical procedure, the first synthetic cartilage device approved by the FDA.

The Cartiva SCI was developed for the treatment of painful arthritis at the base of the big toe, the most common arthritic condition in the foot. The current standard of care involves fusing the bones in the arthritic joint with plates and screws. While fusion is an effective procedure for eliminating pain, it permanently prevents movement of the joint.

“The advent of synthetic cartilage offers surgeons a new option to treat patients dealing with the pain caused by degenerative arthritis of the big toe joint. The implant replaces part of the damaged cartilage surface in the joint, provides improved mobility versus traditional fusion surgery, and patients can begin walking on the foot much sooner,” said Dr. Clifford Jeng, Medical Director, The Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy.

The Cartiva SCI is a molded, cylindrical device made of biocompatible, biomedical polymer designed to have physical properties similar to those of actual cartilage. Cartilage damaged by degenerative or post-traumatic arthritis is replaced with a small implant that provides a compressible, low-friction and durable bearing surface. The implant provides pain relief and improves both function and motion.

The Cartiva SCI is meant for use in patients with arthritis in the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint (e.g. loss of big toe joint motion due to arthritic conditions).

"SCI implantation is a minimally invasive treatment that takes about 40% less time than a traditional fusion surgery, so less time in the operating room for the patient. Patients have been found to return to their pre-operative activities much faster than with fusion. There’s no cast to wear and patients can begin bearing full weight almost immediately,” Dr. Jeng said.

The Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction is a division of The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital at Mercy Medical Center, named a Best National Hospital in Orthopedics by U.S. News & World Report. Dr. Clifford Jeng, renowned foot and ankle surgeon in Baltimore, leads a team of experts, including, Dr. John Campbell, Dr. Rebecca Cerrato and Dr. Gary Pichney.

Mercy Medical Center is a 142-year-old, university affiliated medical facility with a national reputation for women’s health care. For more information, visit Mercy online at; MDMercyMedia on Facebook and Twitter; or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.