Cartilage restoration is an alternative to joint replacement surgery for individuals with cartilage damage. Cartilage restoration repairs damaged cartilage by implanting healthy cartilage to the joint space and can be done in one of two ways:
Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI) is a two-step procedure used to treat areas of damaged cartilage with full thickness cartilage loss. First, the surgeon will extract healthy cartilage from the patient’s knee and allow it to culutre to produce new cartilage cells. After several weeks, the healthy cells will be implanted and used to patch damaged cartilage.
Osteochondral Transplants are used to treat large areas of cartilage and when a bone injury has also occurred. During the procedure, the surgeon will transfer small plugs of cartilage and bone taken from a healthy, non-weight bearing area of the patient’s knee to the injured area. Larger areas of damage may require the use of a donor.