Latest Technology in
Cartilage Restoration

at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital

Our hospital is renowned for providing quality healthcare and treatment to every patient who decides to undergo surgery at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital. Our orthopedic team is comprised of some of the most experienced and talented orthopedic surgeons, which is why you should rest assured that your quality of life will improve significantly after you have the procedure you need at our hospital.

If you have to undergo cartilage restoration, our surgeons are always prepared to perform the most effective, as well as the safest, procedure for you. However, before entering the operation room, your health will be thoroughly evaluated so as to make sure the risk of postoperative complications is minimal.

The majority of people who need cartilage restoration are young adults who sustained a single injury or lesion. Elderly patients may unfortunately not benefit from cartilage restoration, as they usually have multiple lesions in one joint. The knee area is the most common when it comes to cartilage restoration. Nevertheless, shoulder and ankle problems can also be treated with cartilage restoration surgery.

If the cartilage in your knee is injured, you will experience symptoms such as joint pain, a clicking or grinding sensation, swelling, your knee joint locking, catching or giving way, and stiffness. While some people can manage these symptoms with regular physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication, others need surgery if they have severe damage to the cartilage of their knee.

During cartilage restoration, the knee of the patient is resurfaced, realigned, and stabilized in order to avoid joint replacement. The procedure is particularly effective in patients under 50 who are active. Articular cartilage is a covering that is smooth, firm, and slippery and can be found on the end of bones, having the role of protecting and cushioning the bone joint. If you experience any type of injury to your cartilage, you will notice significant pain and swelling. In severe cases, cartilage may become partially or fully detached, which will cause mechanical symptoms such as “catching” or “locking up”.

Cartilage restoration is the best surgery to alleviate the symptoms caused by injury, as well as to repair the damaged cartilage. Depending on the extent of the injury, cartilage restoration surgery can take between 1 and 4 hours to complete. There are two types of surgery for cartilage restoration, namely:

  • Autologous chondrocyte implantation: This is recommended for larger areas of full-thickness cartilage loss, and the patient will have to undergo two separate procedures. During the first one, the surgeon harvests normal cartilage cells from a healthy area of the knee arthroscopically. The second procedure is a traditional surgery during which the surgeon implants the cartilage cells back into the knee to repair the affected region. The healthy cartilage cells are either injected under a water-tight membrane or on a medicinal patch.
  • Osteochondral transplant: If other techniques fail or if the bone is also damaged along with cartilage, this procedure is the most effective for the patient. During this surgery, cartilage and bone plugs are collected from a non-weight bearing area of the patient’s knee or from a donor. Subsequently, they are transplanted to cover the injured site of bone and cartilage.

However, there are other procedures employed for cartilage restoration, such as microfracture, abrasion arthroplasty, drilling, or allograft transplantation. Only your orthopedic surgeon can let you know with certainty which surgical procedure is right for you, depending on the extent of your cartilage damage, your age, and your overall health. Regardless of which surgical approach is used for cartilage restoration, there is no cause for concern, as we will make sure the procedure goes exactly as planned.

The benefits of undergoing cartilage restoration are countless, including the following:

  • no need to place artificial substances in the joint for pain relief
  • delaying or avoiding the necessity of joint replacement surgery
  • pain relief without needing to undergo additional procedures
  • ability to resume normal activities without any restriction
  • possibility of preventing the onset of arthritis due to bone/ joint injury

Recovery

In general, people who underwent cartilage restoration will have to spend 1 to 3 days in the hospital under medical supervision. After this short period of time, they will have to use crutches for approximately 8 weeks. Subsequently, they can use a stationary bike within 4 to 6 weeks after their surgery, swim and engage in elliptical training within 8 to 12 weeks, and do light jogging one year following the procedure.

Finally, they will be able to partake in activities such as basketball, squash, and long-distance running after 18 months of their cartilage reconstruction. The reason why recovery takes so long when it comes to cartilage restoration is that the transplanted tissue needs time to grow and firm up and, if the patient engages in strenuous activities before they are allowed to, they can easily harm or even destroy the new cartilage.

Risks

Because surgery for cartilage replacement is performed near the knee joint, the patient may experience several risks after the procedure. Nonetheless, if their overall health is carefully assessed before the surgery, their chances of facing a postoperative complication are very low. These are the risks that are most commonly associated with cartilage restoration:

  • damage to blood vessels, nerves, or adjacent cartilage
  • infection
  • bleeding
  • joint stiffness
  • blood clots
  • the implantation being rejected or failing to work

Complications

Since cartilage restoration is usually a safe procedure, the risk of complications after the surgery is low, but like any other invasive procedure, it may still cause various health problems, some of which can be:

  • allergic reaction to anesthesia
  • deep vein thrombosis
  • graft delamination
  • numbness around the incision
  • injury to healthy cartilage
  • allergic response to the graft