The small layer of cartilage surfacing your knee joint performs a critical function not only in allowing your joint to move but also in supporting your weight. This cartilage also acts to distribute force during repetitive pounding-like movements such as jumping or running. For these reasons your knee cartilage must be both elastic and firm.

Cartilage restoration may be an option for you if you have experienced cartilage damage or loss due to an injury of the knee, repetitive sports, or work related activities. With cartilage damage or loss you may experience symptoms such as knee locking, catching, localized pain and swelling.

Autologous chondrocyte implantation, or ACI, is one of the procedures you and your doctor may consider for cartilage reconstruction. With ACI, you should prepare for two surgeries. During the first arthroscopic surgery, a few cartilage cells are taken from the knee and transferred to a lab. For four to six weeks the cells are grown in a culture and multiplied. The second surgery then takes place wherein a periosteal patch, taken from thick tissue that covers the shin bone, is sutured over the area of the damaged cartilage. The cultured cells are then implanted into the lesion where they will continue to multiply and integrate with surrounding cartilage.

Another recent cartilage reconstruction procedure involves producing cartilage tissue artificially by placing cells on a porous scaffold material. The cells then grow on this frame, called an artificial scaffold, where they form tissue. When the artificial cartilage is inserted in the patient’s knee the supporting scaffold is gradually resorbed and only the cartilage tissue remains.

Cartilage repair is also being done through microfracture surgery. The procedure works by creating tiny fractures in the underlying bone. This causes new cartilage to develop from a so-called super-clot. The surgery is quick, is minimally invasive, and can have a short recovery time. Microfracture, ACI and the artificial scaffold are leading edge procedures and techniques in which the orthopedic surgeons aligned with Hoag Orthopedic are recognized experts.

Post-Operative rehabilitation will be very important when undergoing cartilage restoration. At Hoag, your physical therapist will be an orthopedic dedicated specialist working closely with your physician, you and your family in order to help you regain full, optimal use of your knee. To derive maximum benefit from your surgery, you will be asked to adhere to a personalized rehabilitation plan.