Articular cartilage is the white tissue lining the ends of bones that form joints. It cushions the joint and helps in smooth gliding of bones during movement. The cartilage can get damaged with wear and tear with increasing age, injury or trauma. This leads to painful rubbing of the joint bones and inflammation.
Ankle cartilage restoration surgeries are indicated to relieve pain, restore normal function, and delay or prevent the onset of arthritis. The goal of surgery is to stimulate the growth of new hyaline cartilage. There are various arthroscopic ankle cartilage procedures:
Microfracture: Numerous holes are created in the injured joint surface using a sharp tool. This stimulates the healing response by creating new blood supply, which instigates the growth of new cartilage.
- Drilling: A drilling instrument is used to create holes in the injured joint surface. The holes create blood supply, which stimulates the growth of new cartilage. Although drilling is similar to microfracture, it is less precise and the heat produced during the process may damage other tissues.
- Abrasion arthroplasty: High-speed burrs are used to remove the worn-out cartilage. This procedure is performed minimally invasively using an arthroscope, a narrow tube with a camera and light source.
- Osteochondral autograft transplantation: Healthy cartilage tissue (graft) is taken from your own bone that bears less weight and transferred to the injured joint. This method is used for smaller cartilage defects.
- Osteochondral allograft transplantation: Cartilage tissue (graft) is taken from a donor and transplanted to the site of the injury. The allograft technique is recommended if a larger part of cartilage is damaged.
- Autologous chondrocyte implantation: A piece of healthy cartilage from another site is removed using arthroscopic technique and cultured in a laboratory. The cultured cells form a larger patch, which is then implanted at the damaged region by open surgery.
- Following the surgery, rehabilitation procedures are advised to necessitate healing and restore normal functioning of the joint.