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Knee cartilage surgery
In the knee, there are areas of cartilage tissue which act like shock absorbers in the joint – these are called menisci. There are also areas of cartilage covering the ends of the long bones at the knee joint – these are called articular cartilages. Both of these areas of cartilage may become damaged causing significant problems for patients.
When doctors talk about a cartilage injury to a knee, they usually mean an injury to one of the menisci. See meniscus repair surgery.
However, the knee also has cartilage covering the ends of the bones in the joint – this is called articular cartilage – and damage can occur here as well.
Symptoms of cartilage damage include swelling, joint pain, stiffness and a decreased range of movement in the affected joint. Cartilage covers the surface of joints, enabling bones to slide over one another while reducing friction and preventing damage. It helps to support your weight when you move, bend, stretch and run.
Articular cartilage damage is one of the most common and potentially serious types of cartilage damage, and usually affects the knee joint. The damage can result in pain, swelling and some loss of mobility.
Non-surgical treatments, such as physiotherapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are usually recommended for minor to moderate cases of cartilage damage.
What does surgery involve?
There are a number of surgical techniques available, such as encouraging the growth of new cartilage, or taking a piece of healthy cartilage from elsewhere in the joint and using it to replace damaged cartilage.
The Chondrotissue Graft is the latest development in articular cartilage repair and or replacement surgery. This is a high-tech scaffold that is a sterile absorbable matrix sponge-like textile made of non-woven polyglycolic acid treated with hyaluronic acid. It has been shown to induce mesenchymal progenitor cells (stem cells) to differentiate into cartilage cells.
Microfracture is an excellent technique for treating small patches (less than 1cm² defects). It can be performed easily via keyhole (arthroscopic) surgery and does not require complicated equipment.
In the most serious cases, the entire joint may need to be replaced with an artificial joint, such as a knee replacement or hip replacement.