Arthroscopic Surgery – Pieces of torn and damaged cartilage and tissue are removed or repaired in a procedure called “debridement.”
Microfracture – Small puncture holes are drilled in the bone surface where cartilage has been lost to trigger the body’s formation of a new cartilage covering.
Osteochrondial Transfer -Used to repair smaller areas of cartilage defect. Portions of healthy cartilage are removed from a non-weight bearing area of the patient’s own body and transplanted to the damaged area of the joint.
Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI) – An innovative technique that creates new cartilage in injured areas by utilizing healthy cartilage cells harvested from the patient’s joint in a primary arthroscopic procedure. These healthy cartilage cells are then grown in a laboratory setting for 4-6 weeks and result in additional new cartilage that can then be used to repair damaged areas in a secondary procedure with a minimally invasive surgical technique.
Meniscal and Osteochondrial Allografts – For larger areas of meniscal or articular cartilage loss, donated cartilage or menisci can be implanted to re-establish the joint surface and help return patients to an active lifestyle.
Articular Cartilage Restoration
Articular cartilage is the smooth, white tissue that covers the ends of bones where they come together to form joints. Healthy cartilage in our joints makes it easier to move. It allows the bones to glide over each other with very little friction.
Articular cartilage can be damaged by injury or normal wear and tear. Because cartilage does not heal itself well, doctors have developed surgical techniques to stimulate the growth of new cartilage. Restoring articular cartilage can relieve pain and allow better function. Most importantly, it can delay or prevent the onset of arthritis.
Surgical techniques to repair damaged cartilage are still evolving. It is hoped that as more is learned about cartilage and the healing response, surgeons will be better able to restore an injured joint.
The main component of the joint surface is a special tissue called hyaline cartilage.When it is damaged, the joint surface may no longer be smooth. Moving bones along a tough, damaged joint surface is difficult and causes pain. Damaged cartilage can also lead to arthritis in the joint.
The goal of cartilage restoration procedures is to stimulate new hyaline cartilage growth.
In many cases, patients who have joint injuries, such as meniscal or ligament tears, will also have cartilage damage. This damage may be hard to diagnose because hyaline cartilage does not contain calcium and cannot be seen on an X-ray.
Identifying Cartilage Damage
If other injuries exist with cartilage damage, doctors will address all problems during surgery.
Articular cartilage in the knee damaged in a single, or focal, location.