Cartilage Operation

What is a cartilage operation?

A cartilage operation is an operation to correct cartilage damage. One of the most common types of cartilage operation involves correcting knee cartilage damage.  

Cartilage operation are becoming more popular as there has been an increase in the incidence of damage to the articular cartilage of the femoral and tibial condyles of the knee. This is probably related to increase in sporting activities involving impact. If not treated early and effectively, the patient can develop osteoarthritis of the knee at an early age which can be very difficult to treat.

In the past 10 years, cartilage operation for transplantation has been carried out with over 90% success rate in patients who have cartilage defects but no osteoarthritis. In this cartilage operation, cartilage cells are harvested arthroscopically from the patient’s knee and are sent to a lab where the cells are grown and these cells are implanted in to the patient’s knee 8 weeks later via an open procedure. A special license is needed to carry out this procedure.

Are there any alternatives to surgery? 

For less severe cartilage damage, non-surgical treatment may be recommended. This could include physiotherapy and prescribed painkillers. 

What will happen during my cartilage operation consultation?

When you meet with your consultant surgeon they'll ensure that you have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about your cartilage operation, they'll discuss with you what'll happen before, during and after the procedure and any pain you might have. Take this time with your consultant surgeon to ensure your mind is put at rest. We know that having an operation of any type can be stressful so we've created a short downloadable guide that you might find useful to print off and use to write down any questions you may have. Do take this with you to your consultation.   

What will happen during my cartilage operation? 

There are several different types of cartilage operations. One potential method is to stimulate new cartilage to grow through implanting a frame (which content includes collagen and proteins) into the damaged joint. This should stimulate new cartilage growth and eventually result in the implant being completely absorbed into the new cartilage. This method is called artificial scaffold. Another method is to replace the damaged cartilage with healthy cartilage found elsewhere on the body. This method is known as mosaicplasty. 

If the damage is severe, the joint may need to be replaced with an artificial one. You may be recommended knee replacement surgery.

What happens during your cartilage operation will depend on your unique medical needs. Your consultant surgeon will discuss with you the exact type of surgery that you require.

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