Cartilage regeneration - knee
Knee microfracture surgery is a common procedure used to repair damaged knee cartilage. Cartilage helps cushion and cover the area where bones meet in the joints.
You will not feel any pain during the surgery. Three types of anesthesia may be used for knee arthroscopy surgery:
The surgeon will perform the following steps:
These holes connect to the bone marrow to release cells that can build new cartilage to replace the damaged tissue.
You may need this procedure if you have damage to the cartilage:
The goal of this surgery is to prevent or slow further damage to the cartilage. This will help prevent knee arthritis. It can help you delay the need for a partial or total knee replacement.
This procedure is also used to treat knee pain due to cartilage injuries.
A surgery called matrix autologous chondrocyte implantation (MACI) or mosaicplasty can also be done for similar problems.
Risks of anesthesia and surgery in general are:
Risks for microfracture surgery are:
Always tell your health care provider what drugs you are taking, including medicines, herbs, or supplements you bought without a prescription.
During the 2 weeks before your surgery:
On the day of your surgery:
Physical therapy may begin in the recovery room right after your surgery. You will also need to use a machine, called a CPM machine. This machine will gently exercise your leg for 6 to 8 hours a day for several weeks. This machine is most often used for 6 weeks after surgery. Ask your provider how long you will use it.
Your doctor will increase the exercises you do over time until you can fully move your knee again. The exercises may make the new cartilage heal better.
You will need to keep your weight off your knee for 6 to 8 weeks unless told otherwise. You will need crutches to get around. Keeping the weight off the knee helps the new cartilage grow. Make sure you check with your doctor to find out how much weight you can put on your leg and for how long.
You will need to go to physical therapy and do exercises at home for 3 to 6 months after surgery.
Many people do well after this surgery. Recovery time can be slow. Many people can go back to sports or other intense activities in about 9 to 12 months. Athletes in very intense sports may not be able to return to their former level.
People under age 40 with a recent injury often have the best results. People that are not overweight also have better results.
Frank RM, Lehrman B, Yanke AB, Cole BJ. Chondroplasty and microfracture. In: Miller MD, Browne JA, Cole BJ, Cosgarea AJ, Owens BD, eds. Operative Techniques: Knee Surgery. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 10.
Frank RM, Vidal AF, McCarty EC. Frontiers in articular cartilage treatment. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee, Drez, & Miller’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 97.
Harris JD, Cole BJ. Knee articular cartilage restoration procedures. In: Noyes FR, Barber-Westin SD, eds. Noyes' Knee Disorders: Surgery, Rehabilitation, Clinical Outcomes. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 31.
Miller RH, Azar FM. Knee injuries. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, Canale ST, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 45.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 7/8/2020
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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