Cartilage Restoration

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Athletes are particularly susceptible to cartilage injury and damage. Cartilage restoration is an innovative surgical procedure designed to stimulate the growth of new cartilage. Successful cartilage restoration has the potential to restore the knee to normal function. Even an arthritic condition can be delayed or prevented through cartilage restoration.

Cartilage restoration is one of many progressive sports medicine treatment approaches routinely performed by our skilled OrthoAspen surgeons. It’s our goal to find the best approach to help our patients get back to what they enjoy doing the most.

Dietary Supplements

Several techniques are employed for cartilage restoration including dietary supplements, microfracture, drilling, abrasion arthroplasty, osteochondral autograft and allograft transplantation.

In some cases, our OrthoAspen sports medicine experts may suggest dietary supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin as non-surgical treatment options for cartilage restoration.

Chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine are naturally occurring substances in the body that prevent degradation of cartilage and promote formation of new cartilage. Chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine obtained from animal sources are available as over-the-counter products and are recommended for cartilage restoration.

Apart from these, various other nutritional supplements are recommended, such as calcium with magnesium and vitamin D, S-adenosyl-methionine and methylsulfonylmethane.

Surgical Approaches

There are several types of surgical approaches your OrthoAspen surgeon may suggest to treat a knee injury or condition, which include:

  1. Microfracture
    Numerous holes are created in the injured joint surface using a sharp tool to stimulate the healing response. Microfracture creates a new blood supply to help spur the growth of new cartilage.
  2. Drilling
    A high-speed, metal-like object is used to remove the damaged cartilage, performed using an arthroscope.
  3. Abrasion Arthroplasty
    Utilized as a method for smaller cartilage defects, healthy cartilage tissue (graft) is taken from the bone that bears less weight and is transferred to the injured joint.
  4. Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation
    A piece of healthy cartilage from another site is removed using an arthroscopic technique and is cultured in a laboratory. Cultured cells form a larger patch are then implanted in the damaged area by open surgery.
  5. Osteoarticular Transfer System (OATS)
    Osteoarticular transfer system (OATS) is a surgical procedure designed to treat isolated cartilage defects which are usually 10 to 20 millimeters in size. The procedure involves transfer of cartilage plugs taken from the non-weight bearing areas of the joint which are transferred into the damaged areas of the joint.OATS is not indicated for widespread damage of cartilage as seen in osteoarthritis. The procedure is usually performed using arthroscopy. During the procedure, the plugs taken out are usually larger and therefore only one or two plugs are needed to fill the area of cartilage damage. The area of damaged cartilage is prepared using a coring tool which makes a perfectly round hole in the bone. The hole is drilled to a size that fits the plug. Next the plug of normal cartilage is harvested from a non-weight bearing area of the knee and implanted into the hole.

To know for certain whether cartilage restoration is an appropriate treatment solution for your knee condition, an OrthoAspen sports medicine specialist will conduct a full examination. Typically, athletes who have experienced joint injuries—ligament and meniscal tears—also have cartilage damage.

If you’d like to learn more about cartilage restoration, begin by clicking here or call us at 970-544-1289.


Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400