n Microfracture Drilling - AOA Orthopedic Specialists


The knee joint consists of the juncture of the femur and the tibia.  In addition, the kneecap, held in place by tendon, rests in front of the joint and offers protection like a shield.  The surfaces of the bones facing the inside of the joint have a cartilage lining to protect the bone by offering padding and reducing friction during movement.  When this intra-articular cartilage incurs damage on the femur, tibia, or the back of the kneecap the following pain can land you in the office of an orthopedic surgeon for evaluation.

Causes of a chondral defect

Intra-articular cartilage can take damage from an acute injury or by the wear and tear of progressive conditions such as osteoarthritis.  Once the cartilage takes on damage it will not heal on its own.  Weak points in cartilage may not cause pain immediately, but cartilage damage tends to get worse with time from your body’s defensive responses to it.  Bone spurs may form from bone on bone contact and inflammation can weaken surrounding cartilage.  Defects in cartilage cause pain and will continue to degrade over time.

Symptoms of a chondral defect

Symptoms of a chondral defect hide amongst general knee issues such as pain and swelling.  Many times, surgeons discover chondral defects while correcting other acute knee issues arthroscopically, such as ligament and tendon tears, before they cause symptoms of their own as they progress the arthritic degeneration of the joint.


When a surgeon discovers an isolated chondral defect while performing joint arthroscopy for let’s say an ACL tear, or other ligament, meniscus, or tendon issue, then they have a few options on how to proceed.  Under certain circumstances they can harvest a small amount of cartilage and send it to a lab to grow autograft tissue for later implantation, but the industry standard consists of microfracture drilling of the isolated chondral defect.  The idea behind a surgeon drilling a series of small holes in the defect lesion’s exposed bone consists of the principle to induce scar cartilage tissue to form.  The procedure usually involves an existing arthroscope surgery with the defect discovered during the procedure.  If your surgeon utilizes microfracture drilling the healing process differs slightly but usually lines up well with the initial surgery.  Microfracture drilling to correct an isolated chondral defect requires 8 weeks of non-weight bearing for the tissues to properly regenerate.  The rest of the recovery -process depends upon what else was completed.

Considering Arthrscopic knee surgery?  Talk to an Orthopedic Specialists today about microfracture drilling! 817-375-5200



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