Cartilage is a firm and flexible connective tissue found in various parts of the body, such as joints, ears, and the nose. It provides structural support, smooth surfaces for joint movement, and absorbs shock to protect bones. With a rubbery consistency, cartilage lacks blood vessels and nerves, relying on nearby tissues for nourishment. It is crucial in maintaining joint function and stability, making smooth and pain-free movement essential.
It is the soft cushiony joining at the ends of the bone to avoid friction between them. It aids the easy movement of any body part and allows the individual to perform different activities. A cartilage can be damaged due to wear and tear or a sudden external injury. Damaged cartilage can lead to pain while performing any movement or other severe orthopaedic issues such as arthritis.
- Cartilage Repair is a surgical procedure for repairing damaged cartilage. It helps to ease the movement of the affected part of the body. Usually, minimally invasive surgery is required to repair the damaged cartilage. Depending upon the form of injury, various other procedures can also be used to repair the cushiony support of the bones.
Methods for Cartilage Restoration
Mentioned below are some of the methods followed for cartilage restorations and ease in the movement of the damaged part of the body:
- Microfracture– It is one of the surgical methods used to restore damaged cartilage. The main aim of the surgery is to stimulate the growth of new cartilage by creating a new blood supply. A sharp tool known as an awl creates holes in the bone for blood supply. It is a healing procedure when new cells and blood flow into the bones. It helps form new cartilage for easy movement of the damaged joints.
- Drilling– Drilling is also one of the procedures for cartilage restoration. The procedure involves drilling holes in the affected bone for a healing response. The aim of the surgery is similar to microfracture, i.e., stimulating the formation of new cartilage by blood supply through the bone along with new cells in it. The procedure may be risky for young patients.
- Abrasion Arthroplasty– It is also a minimally invasive procedure. It involves the removal of damaged cartilage with the help of burrs. It helps in making holes to reach the affected subchondral bone. The holes help in easy blood flow for the formation of healthy cartilage.
- Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI)- Involves harvesting healthy cartilage cells from the patient, growing them in a lab, and then implanting them into the damaged area.
- Osteochondral Autograft Transplantation (OATS)- Involves transferring healthy cartilage and bone from a non-weight-bearing area to the damaged area.
- Matrix-Assisted Chondrocyte Implantation (MACI)- Similar to ACI, cartilage cells are placed on a special scaffold and then implanted into the damaged area.
When is cartilage restoration required?
Mentioned below are the medical situations reflecting the need for cartilage replacement:
- Failure of Non-Surgical Treatments– Surgery is always an option doctors choose when non-surgical options fail to serve their purpose. Healing methods such as medicines or therapies aren’t able to lower the pain caused due to cartilage damage; then surgery is required. The surgery helps tap the root issue and use the proper corrective method to heal it.
- Wear and Tear of Cartilage– Cartilage can be damaged due to wear and tear caused by passing time. Such situations highly impact people of older age groups. Older people with orthopaedic issues often feel pain and difficulty in the movement of joints. A cartilage surgery helps resolve such medical problems and allows one to perform routine activities efficiently.
- External Injury– A sudden fall, accident, or sports injury can damage the cartilage resulting in extreme pain. Surgery comes to the rescue if such situations can’t heal with the help of therapies and medications.
Advantages of Cartilage Restoration
Mentioned below are some of the advantages of surgical repair of cartilage:
- Lowers pain
- Allows to perform routine activities
- Easy movement of the affected joints
Risks and Complications of Cartilage Repair
Mentioned below are the possible complications of a cartilage surgery that can cause discomfort to the affected patient:
- Bleeding– Bleeding is one of the complications that can occur during cartilage surgery. It can happen due to the damage caused to the nerves surrounding the surgical area. Immediate medical assistance to stop the surgery is the first step in such situations. If the bleeding is not treated for longer, it may lead to other medical issues.
- Infection– Infection is also one of the possible risks observed after the completion of a surgical procedure. The possibility of infection is low in minimally invasive surgeries. It can happen due to improper closing of the surgical incisions. When it reaches the surgical site, the bacteria multiply rapidly and weaken the patient internally. It lowers the recovery pace and may also lead to the chances of another surgery to get rid of the damages caused due to infection.
- Blood Clot– The formation of blood clots is also one of the risks involved in a surgical procedure. It happens due to the flow of fat, tissues, and debris in the blood, leading to blood clotting. Such issues need immediate medical assistance as they may act as an obstruction in the healing process post-surgery.
- Pain– Pain acts as a drill after any surgical procedure. It is a vital part of the healing process. It subsides as the wound heals. If the pain is unbearable and troubling the patient, then a doctor may prescribe painkillers to handle the situation.
- Scar Tissue Formation- Excessive scar tissue can develop, affecting joint movement and function.
- Implant Rejection- There is a risk of the body rejecting the foreign material for procedures involving grafts or implants.
- Nerve and Blood Vessel Damage- The surgical process may inadvertently damage nearby nerves and blood vessels, resulting in sensory or circulatory issues.
When to Consult a Doctor
You can also get in touch with the expert Ortho doctors at Narayana Healthcare based in your city to get immediate attention and medical support during injuries, health disorders or any other health concern.
Q. What is Cartilage Repair?
A. It is a surgical procedure involving the removal of damaged cartilage and stimulating the growth of new cushiony supports between the bones.
Q. What are the complications involved in Cartilage Repair surgery?
A. Bleeding, pain, blood clots, and infection are possible complications of cartilage restoration surgery.
Q. What are common cartilage repair methods?
A. Microfracture, ACI, OATS, MACI, and allograft transplantation are common cartilage repair methods.
Q. What are the risks of cartilage repair?
A. Risks include infection, healing failure, pain, swelling, scar tissue, implant rejection, blood clots, nerve and vessel damage.
Q. How effective is cartilage repair?
A. Effectiveness varies with the procedure, extent of damage, and individual response. Success rates are generally good, but not all cases fully heal.
Q. How long is the recovery after cartilage repair?
A. Recovery depends on the procedure and the patient’s condition. It can range from a few weeks to several months with physical therapy for optimal results.