Common Procedures for Cartilage Repair

Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue that cushions your joints. Cartilage can be damaged by injuries or arthritis, causing pain that may alter you from performing daily activities. Scottsdale cartilage repair usually involves articular cartilage, which coats and protects the ends of your bones. There are various procedures that doctors use to repair damaged cartilage, depending on the nature and extent of the damage. Your provider usually uses surgical techniques that encourage new tissue growth. Here are common procedures for cartilage repair.


Microfracture stimulates the growth of new articular cartilage by creating a new blood supply. Your surgeon may perform this procedure using an arthroscope. The surgeon uses a sharp instrument called an awl to make multiple holes in the exposed surface called the subchondral bone to help stimulate the healing response. The process allows the new blood supply to reach the joint surface and production of new cells that will form the new cartilage. Microfracture can be beneficial if you are less active and have single and smaller lesions and healthy subchondral bone.

Matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation (MACI)

MACI involves your specialist growing and implanting new cartilage cells in the cartilage defect. Your specialist first removes healthy cartilage tissue from a non-weight-bearing area of a bone through arthroscopy. The specialist sends the healthy cartilage cells to a lab where they are cultured on a collagen matrix to increase in number for over one month. After the cells multiply, using fibrin glue, your specialist implants them onto another collagen matrix secured within the damaged area. MACI is most useful if you are young and have single defects larger than two centimeters in diameter.

Osteochondral autograft transplantation

Osteochondral autograft transplantation involves transferring cartilage from part of your joint to another. Your surgeon may perform the procedure using an arthroscope or through open surgery. Osteochondral autograft transplantation involves your surgeon taking a healthy cartilage tissue and subchondral bone from a non-weight-bearing bone, matching it to the surface area of the defect, and pushing it into place. The process leaves a smooth cartilage surface in your joint. Osteochondral autograft is beneficial if you have smaller cartilage defects. It can also be useful if the bone under the damaged cartilage has signs of stress or wear.

Osteochondral allograft transplantation

Your surgeon may recommend osteochondral allograft transplantation if your cartilage defect is too large. Allografts are composed of cartilage and bone and are taken from a donor. Before the transplant, technicians test the allograft for diseases that might be transmitted to the recipient. Allografts are larger than autografts. Your specialist can shape an allograft to help fit the exact contour of your defect. Surgeons perform osteochondral allograft transplantation through an open incision.

Abrasion arthroplasty

Abrasion arthroplasty involves the removal of the damaged cartilage to reach the subchondral bone using high-speed burrs. The process may be beneficial if you are less active and have smaller lesions. Doctors often use an arthroscope.

Cartilage repair mostly involves surgical procedures that help stimulate new tissue growth. Common cartilage repair procedures include Microfracture, MACI, osteochondral allograft transplantation, and abrasion arthroplasty. Schedule an appointment at AZ Ortho for cartilage repair to relieve your pain. 

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