Cartilage is an important tissue that is found in various parts of the body. Cartilage in your knee acts as a soft cushion between two joints. The presence of arthritis or injuries leads to the damage of cartilage. The problem causes knee pain and stiffness during the movement. Initially, medication, injections or other kinds of therapies could cure the problem. If none of the options work, cartilage transfer surgery is best preferred.
The surgery is required because an injured cartilage does not tend to heal on its own due to lack of blood vessels. Blood vessels are necessary for bleeding which in turn helps in healing. Cartilage transfer surgery helps in reducing knee pain and re-establishes knee function like before.
The surgery uses undamaged cartilage from a normal area of the knee and moves it to the damaged area of the knee. The empty space left from where the cartilage plugs are removed gets filled up with bone and scar tissues later. The transfer procedure is done in two different ways:
- Mosaicplasty – The term mosaic is used here because once the plugs of the cartilage are moved into a damaged area, those small plugs look like mosaic tiles. The size of each plug is few millimeters in diameter.
- OATS – It stands for Osteochondral Autograft Transfer System and the technique is similar to mosaicplasty. The only difference lies is the size of the plugs. The plugs here are larger and with one or two plugs, the damaged area of cartilage gets filled.
While performing cartilage transfer surgery, arthroscopic inspection of the knee is done in the first place. During the inspection, if an area of damaged cartilage that is suitable to cartilage transfer is found, the arthroscope is replaced with an incision. With the help of a coring tool, a round hole is created in the damaged area. The hole is made big enough to fit the size of the plug. The next step is to remove the plug of normal cartilage. The size of the plug is relatively larger than the hole so that it securely gets fitted into the hole. Finally, the removed plug is implanted into the hole of damaged area. The implanted plug will hopefully incorporate and function properly in its new environment.
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