Cartilage Repair and Regeneration

By harvesting cartilage cells from the knee or stimulating the knee to regenerate its own cartilage, Dr. Karas can repair debilitating cartilage damage and prevent further degenerative joint disease.  The two most common methods to resurface damaged articular cartilage are the Microfracture and OATs (osteoarticular transplant) techniques.

Patient Profile:

  • Acute knee trauma (chronic knee injury due to sports, work, or overuse)
  • Patients experiencing pain or swelling in the knee from focal defects in the articular cartilage

Trauma and injuries to the knees commonly involve damage to the articular cartilage, the thin layer of cells lining the ends of articulating joints. Left untreated, cartilage defects will not  heal  and are unable to regenerate new tissue. Patients with cartilage damage may develop osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease causing pain and loss of movement. Nearly 21 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis. When performing knee Microfracture, Dr. Karas employs an arthroscopic surgical technique to evaluate the lesion. The lesion is stabilized and prepared, and then small holes are placed in the bone at the base of the lesion. These holes will form a small clot, which contains growth factors that mature into a relatively durable fibrocartilage.

In the OATs procedure, an osteocartilaginous graft is harvested from the intercondylar notch in the center of the knee,  and then implanted into the prepared defect area.

Post-operation, the patient should not bear weight on the knee for 4-6 weeks.  Strengthening exercises that are non weight bearing for the involved side are introduced and continued strengthening for the opposite side is also necessary.  Healing is checked at regular intervals.  After three to six months the treated area is usually well healed with new reparative tissue.