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Cartilage Repair

SportsMED Orthopedic Surgery & Spine Center

Orthopedics, Sports Medicine, Neurosurgery & Nutrition Located in Huntsville, Madison, Athens & Decatur, AL

The cartilage that lines your joints allows for smooth, pain-free movement. Unfortunately, your cartilage is vulnerable to injury and degeneration, which affects mobility and causes joint pain. Until recently, treatment for damaged cartilage centered around alleviating symptoms. The experienced team at SportsMED Orthopedic Surgery & Spine Center offers a new treatment called cartilage repair and transplantation to treat cartilage injuries and restore joint health and mobility. To learn more about cartilage repair and how it may benefit you, call us today or book an appointment online at one of our four locations servicing the communities of Huntsville, Madison, Athens, and Decatur, Alabama.

Cartilage Repair Q & A

What is cartilage repair?

The cartilage that lines your joints is susceptible to injury and degeneration. Until recently, treatment for cartilage damage involved conservative methods such as medication, ice, physical therapy, rest, and cortisone shots. Surgical options include arthroscopic abrasion, laser treatments, and joint replacement.

Cartilage repair and transplantation is a fairly new treatment option for cartilage injuries and degeneration in the United States but has been in use in other countries for years. 

During cartilage repair, your orthopedic surgeon harvests a sample of cartilage cells from your damaged tissue and sends the cells to the Genzyme lab in Boston, Massachusetts, to grow. The new cells are then transplanted back into your damaged cartilage.  

The orthopedic team at SportsMED Orthopedic Surgery & Spine Center received specialized training so they can provide this innovative treatment. 

Am I a good candidate for cartilage repair?

The team at SportsMED determines if you’re a good candidate for cartilage repair and transplantation during a consultation. You may be a good candidate for cartilage repair if you:

  • Are between the ages of 14 and 48
  • Are in relatively good health
  • Have good joint alignment with defects less than one centimeter

The team primarily performs the procedure on the distal femur bone in the knee. You may not be a good candidate if you have arthritis, an infection, malalignment problems, or are obese. 

What happens during cartilage repair?

Cartilage repair at SportsMED requires two procedures. During the first procedure, your provider harvests cells from your damaged cartilage using an arthroscopic approach. They send the cells to the special lab, where they grow for several weeks.

Once your harvested cells are ready, your surgeon performs the second procedure. During placement of your new cells, they make a large incision at the site of your cartilage damage and place the new cells back into the area and seal it with a layer of tissue from your leg bone.

You may require hospitalization for a day or two after the second procedure, and weight-bearing activities are restricted for a period of time before your rehabilitation begins. The team advises that you not engage in strenuous activities for 6-12 months after your cartilage repair. 

To schedule your cartilage repair consultation, call SportsMED or book online today.