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Mercy Clinic Orthopedics in the East Communities is pleased to announce the opening of the Cartilage Repair and Joint Preservation Program, led by Dr. Robert Duerr at Mercy Clinic Orthopedics - Southfork. Dr. Duerr became interested in cartilage repair of the knee as an orthopedic resident, when he developed pain and swelling in his knee that limited his ability to perform his job

Personal Experience

Dr. Duerr eventually underwent a microfracture procedure, which is an arthroscopic surgery in which holes are drilled into the subchondral bone of a cartilage defect of the knee with the intention of new scar tissue (fibrocartilage) growing to fill in the defect. Unfortunately, this procedure was unsuccessful, and he then traveled to Chicago to have an osteochondral allograft transplant with one of the world’s leading experts. This technique uses bone and cartilage from an organ donor to replace damaged cartilage in a patient’s knee (Figure 1 and 2 below). Unfortunately, this procedure was also unsuccessful and Dr. Duerr underwent a revision osteochondral allograft surgery and luckily has been pain free for many years.

From this experience, Dr. Duerr brings a unique perspective to this field and empathizes with his patients who far too often have had similar experiences. Cartilage damage in the knee at a young age can be a challenging problem, though new techniques have enabled orthopedic surgeons to repair this damage and delay the need for knee replacements in young, active patients.

Education and Training

Dr. Duerr completed his training at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he learned from two of the world’s leading experts in knee cartilage repair and joint preservation. He later joined the faculty at The Ohio State University, where he was an assistant professor in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine, and an integral member of the cartilage restoration program. Dr. Duerr taught numerous residents and fellows advanced techniques in knee joint preservation. Now recognized as an expert in performing lower extremity osteotomies and cartilage repair procedures, he has been invited to lecture both nationally and internationally to teach other surgeons these techniques.

Helping Local Patients at Mercy

He joined Mercy in August of this year, and hopes to bring his experience and expertise to patients in the St. Louis community who may be candidates for knee cartilage repair or joint preservation surgery.

This program is aimed at patients aged 14-50 years old with knee cartilage injuries or degenerative conditions that have pain limiting their daily activities and may be candidates for cartilage repair or other joint preservation procedures. Additionally, Dr. Duerr specializes in non-surgical treatment of knee cartilage injuries and in orthobiologic knee injections, which they will soon be able to offer patients who may not be surgical candidates.