Knee Cartilage Transplant: Everything You Need To Know

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Feb 28, 2023

Damage to your knees can cause a severe blow to your mobility and productivity. Especially if you are an athlete, a single accident may get you thinking about sabotaging your entire career. Earlier, serious damage to knee cartilage was considered to be permanent. People getting their cartilage injured believed that they would never be able to get back to the field again.

However, things have changed and knee cartilage transplant has made it possible for patients to get complete mobility back after serious injuries. Especially if a patient is not old enough for a total knee replacement, a knee cartilage transplant surgery helps them recover from serious injuries and restore their knee’s functionality.

What Is A Knee Cartilage Transplant?

A knee cartilage transplant, also known as cartilage repair surgery or chondroplasty, is a procedure in which damaged or missing cartilage in the knee joint is replaced with healthy cartilage tissue. The damaged cartilage can be caused by injury or disease, such as osteoarthritis. The healthy cartilage tissue can be taken from a donor or from the patient’s own body.

A knee cartilage transplant surgery can be done using a variety of techniques, such as microfracture, osteochondral autograft transplantation (OATS), and autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI). The goal of the surgery is to improve function and alleviate pain in the knee joint. It is important to note that a knee cartilage transplant is not suitable for all patients, and the decision to undergo the surgery should be made after careful evaluation and consultation with an orthopedic surgeon.

Whom Is Knee Cartilage Transplant Suitable For?

A knee cartilage transplant is typically recommended for patients who have sustained an injury to the , knee cartilage or have a degenerative condition, such as osteoarthritis, that has caused significant damage to the knee cartilage.

Patients who may be suitable for knee cartilage transplant include:


  • Young, active individuals who have sustained a traumatic injury to the knee cartilage, such as a torn meniscus or damaged articular cartilage.


  • Patients with early to moderate osteoarthritis that is limited to a specific area of the knee joint and has not yet developed significant degenerative changes in the joint.


  • Patients who have not responded to conservative treatment such as physical therapy, medication, and/or cortisone injections.

It is important to note that a knee cartilage transplant surgery is not suitable for all patients, and the decision to undergo the surgery should be made after careful evaluation and consultation with an orthopedic surgeon. Factors that can affect the suitability for the procedure include age, overall health, and the extent of the cartilage damage. The surgeon will also consider the patient’s goals for the surgery and whether the potential benefits outweigh the risks.

What Are The Major Benefits Of Knee Cartilage Transplant?

Here are some of the most noteworthy benefits of a knee cartilage transplant surgery:

Pain relief

Damaged or missing cartilage in the knee joint can cause pain and discomfort. Cartilage transplant surgery can alleviate pain by replacing the damaged cartilage with healthy tissue.

Improved knee function

Damaged cartilage can make it difficult to move the knee joint smoothly and comfortably. Cartilage transplant surgery can help to restore normal knee movement and improve overall knee function.

Delay or prevent the need for joint replacement

In cases of advanced osteoarthritis, knee cartilage transplantation may delay or prevent the need for total knee replacement surgery.

Returning to normal activities

After the surgery, patients may be able to return to normal activities such as sports and exercise that were previously limited due to knee pain and dysfunction.

Restoring the joint surface

It can help in restoring the smooth surface of the joint, reducing the pain caused by the irregular surface of the joint.

It’s important to note that the benefits of knee cartilage transplant may vary from patient to patient, and the outcome of surgery can’t be guaranteed. The success of the surgery depends on many factors, such as the size and location of the cartilage defect, the patient’s overall health, and the type of cartilage repair technique used.

Make sure you consult with an orthopedic surgeon to determine whether a knee cartilage transplant is the best option for you and to discuss the potential risks and benefits of the procedure.

Major Barriers To Successful Knee Cartilage Transplant

While a knee cartilage transplant offers many benefits, there are also several barriers to a successful knee cartilage transplant. Let’s have a brief look at them:

Limited tissue availability

One of the main barriers to knee cartilage transplant is the limited availability of healthy cartilage tissue. The tissue can be taken from a donor or from the patient’s own body, but there may not be enough healthy tissue available to repair the damaged cartilage fully.

Difficulty in ensuring proper integration of the new cartilage

The new cartilage may not integrate properly with the surrounding tissue, leading to poor healing, inflammation, and further damage to the joint.

High cost

A knee cartilage transplant can be a costly procedure and may not be covered by all insurance plans.

Potential for complications

As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of complications, such as infection, bleeding, blood clots, and nerve damage.

The risk of failure

There is always a chance that the transplant will not be successful, and the patient will have to undergo further surgery.

Healing time

The healing process of knee cartilage transplant is relatively long, and patients may need to take a significant amount of time off work and/or regular activities to recover.


The older you are, the less likely it is that the cartilage will repair itself, and the greater the chance of complications.

The Final Word

These were some of the most important aspects you should know about knee cartilage transplant. If you have encountered a major knee injury and you aren’t old enough for a total knee replacement, you can definitely opt for a holistic knee cartilage transplant surgery. It will ensure that your knee is healthy again and help you get back on track.

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