Cartilage Surgery of the Knee

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Cartilage Surgery of the Knee

Cartilage is the cushion that protects bones from rubbing against each other. Athletes (especially those participating in contact sports) and those with conditions like osteoarthritis are susceptible to injury to or degeneration of this vital substance. Knees are especially prone to damage because of the weight and pressure put on them. While there are a variety of strategies to repair the harm, surgery is often the best option.

What Is Cartilage Surgery of the Knee?

This usually minimally invasive procedure involves making tiny incisions to repair damage resulting from injury or conditions like osteoarthritis.

What Can Cartilage Surgery of the Knee Accomplish?

Cartilage Surgery of the Knee can accomplish one of the following three things:

  • Repair injured cartilage
  • Promote growth of new cartilage
  • Replace damaged cartilage
Dr. Doerr Orthopedic Surgeon

What are the signs that I might need this?

There are three signs that point toward benefits from surgery: inability to bend or fully straighten the knee; a popping or other sound upon twisting or turning; and being unable to put weight on the knee or squat. If two or more of these signs are present, knee surgery is probably what the doctor ordered.

There are other factors involved in making the decision to operate. Active individuals see better results. People who experience pain while resting and have had discomfort for a shorter amount of time (months, not years) are better candidates, as are those without difficulties with knee stability or alignment.

How do I prepare for cartilage surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery by arthroscopy usually requires little or no preparation — beyond abstaining from eating or drinking prior to surgery.

Procedures such as meniscal replacement are performed under general anesthesia; therefore, an exam to ensure that the patient is a good candidate is recommended. This is the time to tell the doctor about all medications and supplements and to ask if any should be stopped before surgery.

What are the types of knee surgery?

Arthroscopic Surgery

In arthroscopic surgery, the surgeon makes several tiny incisions. An arthroscope, an instrument with a lighted scope connected to a monitor, is inserted into one; instruments that actually perform the procedure go into the others. There is a wide range of surgeries that can be performed arthroscopically. One type, knee chondroplasty, reshapes cartilage. Debridement—removing irritants like loose bits of cartilage and flushing the joint with saline—is often performed at the same time.

Knee Cartilage Regeneration

Knee cartilage regeneration has the potential to facilitate self-healing. Cartilage does not easily repair itself because it lacks blood vessels; bleeding is essential for the healing process. When a surgeon makes abrasions or little cuts in underlying bone, blood from the injured bone may encourage the growth of healthy cartilage.

Knee Cartilage Replacement

Knee cartilage replacement is indicated where healthy cartilage is lacking. The substance may be taken from elsewhere in the knee or an outside source, either another part of your own knee or donor cartilage. An exciting method involves removing healthy cartilage from the patient, culturing it to grow new cells, and— after about five weeks—transplanting it into the knee.

What are the risks?

While knee surgery carries few risks, there are some rare but possible complications. Infection and bleeding can occur. Those with certain conditions might experience blood clots traveling to the lungs, heart, and brain. Smoking can increase the chance of infection and other problems; in addition, it may negatively affect the surgery’s outcome.

What happens during the surgery?

After administering medication to relax the patient and a local anesthetic, the surgeon makes a tiny incision and inserts the arthroscope. This instrument allows him or her to see the affected area on a monitor. Three more incisions are made to insert the instruments used to make needed repairs or initiate tissue regeneration.

Will I Recieve General Anesthesia During Surgery?

For more invasive procedures, general anesthesia is administered. The patient receives oxygen and vital signs are carefully monitored.

Dr. Doerr Orthopedic Surgeon

What happens during recovery and rehabilitation?

How quickly patients can return to normal activities depends on the type of surgery. People can usually put weight on the knee soon after the surgery (although a brace may be necessary). Patients may need to use crutches for several days following some procedures. It is a good idea to have someone help with everyday chores. Removing loose rugs, taping down wires, and having a sturdy, supportive chair with two arms are essential preparations.

Cartilage knee surgery, with a bit of advance planning and proper care afterward, is a promising option for anyone—athlete or couch potato—suffering from cartilage damage or osteoarthritis-related degeneration. It can restore function to these vital joints with minimal discomfort and recovery time.

Orthopedic Specialists

Jeffrey Hessing, MD and Timothy Doerr, MD have a passion for helping others. They have a combined 50 years of orthopedic excellence dedicated to the people of the Boise area. All of our surgeons are board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Dr. Doerr

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