What is cartilage regeneration?

Cartilage regeneration involves a surgeon making small cuts underneath an injured cartilage in the bone, with the intention that the resultant blood encourages cartilage cell growth.

Cartilage tissue’s ability to repair itself is severely limited because it does not contain blood vessels, and bleeding is necessary for healing.

The three most common forms of knee cartilage regeneration include:

• knee drilling, which uses a wire or drill to make the holes in the bone
• knee microfracture, which clears away the damaged cartilage completely, before using an awl tool for the piercing of the bone
• -and knee abrasion arthroplasty, which clears the damaged cartilage away completely, before using a tool to roughen the bone surface through scraping.

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Why might I need a cartilage regeneration?

Cartilage regeneration patients typically need to undergo the procedure due to an absence of blood vessels in the cartilage tissue, meaning it is unable to repair itself. This makes the bleeding necessary as part of the healing process.

Regeneration surgery is not recommended for everyone, and tends to be more successful in those who have suffered from pain for months rather than years, do not have knee stability or alignment problems, have pain when resting, or have cartilage damage which is localised, meaning there have been no more than two isolated cartilage injuries. It is not typically recommended that cartilage regeneration is undergone in the case of those with widespread cartilage damage.

What can I expect from the procedure?

Before the operation, you will have the opportunity to discuss all aspects of your procedure with your doctor. An anaesthetist will be present to discuss the best method of anaesthesia for your case before you enter the operating room.

Microdrilling surgery involves the drilling of small holes into the bone at the location of the cartilage damage. It is designed to stimulate the marrow and create the ideal environment for cartilage healing, through the mobilisation of marrow-derived stem cells. The operation is expected to take between one and two hours.

Click here for more information on knee arthroscopy surgery.

Recovery time

Recovery time after cartilage regeneration varies from person to person, but it can take up to a year before high-intensity exercise, such as sports, can be resumed.

Physical therapy plays a key part in recovery, and a detailed programme will be tailored to each patient. A Continuous Passive Motion Machine is typically used daily to help cartilage cells to be formed from the stem cells.

For more information about cartilage regeneration at LHK Clinic or to find out whether we could help you, please fill in the enquiry form below.