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What is Chondroplasty?

Chondroplasty is a surgery to smooth chondral lesions (damaged or degenerated cartilage) of your knee or hip joint that occur due to aging, trauma or a sports injury. Chondroplasty is often combined with Matrix-Induced Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (MACI). This technique employs cultured chondrocytes (cells that produce the cartilage) to repair the articular cartilage damage. These chondrocytes are inserted onto a layer of collagen, which is then implanted over the damaged area of the joint.

Arthroscopic Chondroplasty

Arthroscopic chondroplasty is performed using an arthroscope, a small, fiber-optic instrument consisting of a lens, light source, and video camera. The camera projects images of the inside of the joint onto a large monitor, allowing your surgeon to look for any damage, assess the injury and perform the repair.

What Happens if Chondral Lesions are Left Untreated?

The rough and irregular surface of the damaged cartilage causes pain, inflammation of the joint and difficulty in walking. If left untreated, it progressively degenerates the bones of the joints causing arthritis. 

Conservative Treatment of Chondral Lesions

Your doctor will prescribe pain and anti-inflammatory medications. Hyaluronic acid injections may be ordered to treat severe pain. Physical therapy instructions will be given to teach exercises for flexibility, range of motion and strength-building. Chondroplasty is recommended if you do not respond to non-surgical treatment options. 

Preparing for Chondroplasty

Your doctor will review your symptoms and take a medical history. A physical examination will be performed to check the affected knee or hip. X-ray, MRI, or a CT-Scan may be ordered. Your doctor will advise you to stop smoking days or weeks before the surgery as it negatively impacts healing.

Surgical Procedure

The surgery may be performed with general and regional anesthesia and includes the following steps:

  • A small incision is made on the skin near the knee or hip joint.
  • Excess fluid around the joint may be removed with a syringe.
  • An arthroscope is inserted to view the damaged cartilage.
  • Your surgeon inserts a surgical shaver to remove parts of the damaged cartilage.
  • Radiofrequency may be used to smooth the edges of cartilage.
  • MACI may be performed to replace the damaged cartilage.
  • The incision is closed and a bandage is applied.

Recovery after the Surgery

Your joint is supported by a cast for a few weeks. Your physiotherapist will teach you specific exercises to help you recover sooner. You should regularly follow up with your surgeon to assess your progress. You may return to normal activities after a few months with your surgeon’s approval.