Cartilage injuries to the knee can be very challenging to treat and frequently result in less-than-optimal results despite current cutting-edge technologies. Once cartilage is damaged, it does not heal or regenerate and will continue to break down over time with repetitive use and trauma.
Treatment of cartilage injuries on the undersurface of the patella has been limited to date. Current treatment consists of arthroscopic smoothing of the loose cartilage edges which decreases symptoms of swelling and pain.
However, this treatment typically yields temporary results. More involved treatments involving cartilage grafting have only been performed as open procedures that require large incisions and have the potential for a higher likelihood of postoperative pain, scarring and stiffness.
For the past two years, I have been performing an all-arthroscopic outpatient procedure that I have developed to address full-thickness articular cartilage injuries of the patella. The procedure involves taking an area of good, healthy cartilage from one portion of the knee and grafting it to the damaged area of the patella cartilage.
The patients and I have been extremely pleased with the results of this procedure, which has allowed for all of the patients to return to full activities with complete resolution of symptoms.
These pictures demonstrate a full thickness cartilage injury in a 48-year old postal worker due to knee pain. Approximately four months following this procedure, the patient was back to working full-duty and walking approximately 10 hours a day up and down stairs. She is approximately 2 1/2 years out from her surgical procedure and continues to be pain-free.