Cartilage lines the bony surfaces in a joint. Its main function is to reduce wear and act as a cushion to help in the distribution of forces within a joint. It can become damaged through an injury or a predisposing factor such as lower limb mal-alignment.
Acute injury: It is dependent on the extent of injury. If a cartilage flap is impinging within the joint then the flap can be shaved back. If the flap has detached with a bony fragment then this can be fixed back onto the joint surface. If the cartilage has detached alone then ‘microfracture’ can be performed to stimulate the bone to produce a form of fibrocartilage. These procedures can be performed via keyhole surgery.
Cartilage regeneration techniques can also be used like host cell implantation (ACI/MACI) or synthetic substitutes. Your post-operative rehabilitation will be tailored to your specific requirement following surgery. These techniques are performed via mini-open techniques depending upon where the cartilage defect is present.
Risks of surgery include; infection, bleeding, pain, stiffness, nerve and vessel damage, thrombosis, recurrence of symptoms, anaesthetic risks and need for further surgery. The risks of surgery are very low and you would not be offered the surgery unless the benefits outweigh the risks.