In order to have proper knee function, it is critical to have smooth gliding articular cartilage surface. This cartilage allows for the distribution of force like that which is created by athletes who are repeatedly jumping and running. Though cartilage is very durable, it is prone to injuries in the forms of divots, holes and lesions that require repair.
Our orthopedic surgeons at La Peer Health Systems in Los Angeles are leading experts in their field and formulate individualized treatment plans for patients with all different types of knee conditions. Patients who opt to visit our world-renowned facilities receive an unparalleled quality of service and care. They also benefit from our knowledge and expertise in the very latest cartilage regeneration and repair procedures.
Cartilage Injuries: Long-Term Effects
An injury to the knee cartilage can have a significant impact on an individual’s lifestyle, resulting in pain, swelling, locking and catching of the knee. This can affect everything from participating in athletics to managing everyday activities. If damage to cartilage is left untreated, it can hinder movement, cause pain and in the long-term result in deterioration of the joint surface. Restoring the cartilage can both relieve pain and restore proper knee function as well.
For individuals who have sustained cartilage damage, there are several potential options for treatment:
- ACI Surgery
- OATS Repair
- Osteochondral Allograft Transplantation
Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI) surgery is a procedure that repairs cartilage damage in the knee. The surgery involves removing cartilage cells from the knee, utilizing them to grow many millions of cells in a laboratory, and then implanting the new cells back into the knee where the cartilage was damaged. This surgery is appropriate for patients with small areas of cartilage damage and not for those with extreme wear, as is characteristic of advanced arthritis.
Typically, patients who are candidates for ACI surgery will have a focused area of cartilage damage and be experiencing pain or swelling that limits their range of motion and overall activity. A candidate will also have an otherwise stable knee with no ligament damage. Candidates will also need to commit to a lengthy rehabilitation program.
Osteochondral Autograft Resurfacing (OATS) is a procedure that utilizes the transplantation of the patient’s healthy cartilage and moves it to the damaged area. This type of procedure can only be used for focal cartilage damage and not widespread cartilage damage as is often seen in conditions like osteoarthritis. It is generally used in the treatment of traumatic and chronic injury. The procedure involves taking small plugs of cartilage from non load-bearing areas of the bone that can do without the cartilage and then implanting them in areas where there’s damage.
Osteochondral Allograft Transplantation
In situations where the cartilage defect is too large for an OATS procedure, an osteochondral allograft transplantation may be considered. An allograft is a large piece of cartilage and bone that can be shaped to match the cartilage defect and then affixed into place. During the procedure, the defective cartilage is removed through an incision in the patient’s knee. The allograft is then taken from the donor, measured and removed of excess bone, creating an osteochondral graft that matches the recipient’s site. Finally, the graft is inserted, and pinned or screwed into place
Cartilage Regeneration FAQ’s
Q: Are there any side effects to using tissue grafts?
A: Tissue grafts may result in overgrowth or thickening at the site of repair. A secondary procedure may be required to trim the excess tissue. Some patients may experience short-term discomfort. In rare cases, there may be an overall rejection of the graft.
Q: What kind of post-surgery rehabilitation is required?
A: Patients will begin non-weight-bearing mobility exercises after surgery. The surgeon may also prescribe continual passive motion exercises that will help to maintain a range of motion and shape the new cartilage.
Q: What is the recovery time needed after cartilage surgery?
A: This depends on the procedure and surgery, however recovery could take up to 18 months.
Q: Will having a tissue graft limit my options for future knee treatments or
A: No, tissue graft surgery does not limit options for future knee treatments or surgeries, including knee replacement surgery.
Contact a La Peer Health Systems Orthopedic Surgeon
La Peer Health Systems in Los Angeles features some of the finest orthopedic surgeons in the country. We utilize the latest and most effective procedures when performing cartilage repair and other knee surgery procedures. To schedule a consultation with one of our talented orthopedic surgeons, call (888) 429-6865 or fill out our contact form.
Next, learn about how we treat knee arthritis.