Cartilage transplantation procedures are designed for to replace lost or damaged cartilage. Small cartilage defects can be treated by removing a core consisting of cartilage and underlying bone from one part of the knee and using it in another part. The new cartilage/bone plug is taken from an area in the joint where the cartilage is not considered critically important and is transplanted to the damaged area.
Larger cartilage defects cannot be treated this way, since there is only a small of amount of cartilage available in the knee. These larger defects can be treated with allograft (cadaver) cartilage grafts. The typical patient considered for this procedure is a young, active individual with a traumatic isolated cartilage injury. This technique is performed through a minimally invasive arthroscopic or open technique depending on the size and location of the lesion.