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Articular Cartilage Defects

What is an Articular Cartilage Defect?

The articular or hyaline cartilage is the tissue lining the surface of the two bones in the knee joint. Cartilage helps the bones move smoothly against each other and can withstand the weight of your body during activities such as running and jumping. Articular cartilage does not have a direct blood supply to it, so has less capacity to repair itself. Once the cartilage is torn it will not heal easily and can lead to degeneration of the articular surface, leading to the development of osteoarthritis. 

Causes of Articular Cartilage Defects

The damage of the articular cartilage can affect you regardless of your age. It can be damaged by trauma such as accidents, mechanical injury such as a fall or from degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) occurring in older people.

Symptoms of Articular Cartilage Defects

The symptoms of articular cartilage damage include joint pain, swelling, stiffness and a decrease in the range of motion of the knee. 

Treatment of Articular Cartilage Defects

The damaged cartilage needs to be replaced with healthy cartilage. The procedure is known as cartilage replacement. It is a surgical procedure performed to replace the worn-out cartilage and is usually performed to treat small areas of cartilage damage usually caused by sports or traumatic injuries. It is not indicated for advanced arthritis of the knee. 

Cartilage replacement helps relieve pain, restore normal function, and can delay or prevent the onset of arthritis. The goal of cartilage replacement procedures is to stimulate the growth of new hyaline cartilage. Various arthroscopic procedures involved in cartilage replacement include:

  • Microfracture 
  • Drilling 
  • Abrasion arthroplasty 
  • Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) 
  • Osteochondral autograft transplantation