Articular cartilage is the white tissue lining the end of bones where these bones connect to form joints. Cartilage acts as cushioning material and helps in smooth gliding of bones during movement. An injury to the joint may damage this cartilage which cannot repair on its own. Cartilage can be damaged with increasing age, normal wear and tear, or trauma. Damaged cartilage cannot cushion the joints during movement and the joints may rub over each other causing severe pain and inflammation.
Patients with articular cartilage damage experience symptoms such as joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and a decrease in range of motion. Damaged cartilage needs to be replaced with healthy cartilage and the procedure is known as cartilage replacement. It is a surgical procedure performed to replace the worn-out cartilage and is usually performed to treat patients with small areas of cartilage damage usually caused by sports or traumatic injuries. It is not indicated for those patients who have advanced arthritis.
Cartilage replacement helps relieve pain, restore normal function, and can delay or prevent the onset of arthritis. The goal of cartilage replacement procedures is to stimulate growth of new hyaline cartilage. Various arthroscopic procedures involved in cartilage replacement include:
- Abrasion arthroplasty
- Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI)
- Osteochondral autograft transplantation