Cartilage is a strong and flexible connective tissue found in many parts of the body. It is a firm, rubbery substance that provides structural support and helps maintain the shape of various body parts. However, cartilage is susceptible to damage and wear over time, leading to issues such as cartilage degradation, cartilage lesions, and joint problems. Cartilage repair techniques, such as chondrocyte transplantation, microfracture surgery, and osteochondral grafting, aim to restore and regenerate this vital tissue, offering hope for improved joint health and function.

Cartilage is composed of cells called chondrocytes, which are embedded in a matrix of collagen fibers and proteoglycans. Collagen provides tensile strength, while proteoglycans give the cartilage its ability to resist compression and absorb shock.

There are three main types of cartilage in the human body:

  • Hyaline Cartilage: This is the most common type of cartilage and is found in areas such as the joints, nose, and trachea. It provides a smooth surface for the bones to glide over in joints, helps maintain the shape of the nose, and forms the structure of the respiratory passages.
  • Elastic Cartilage: This type of cartilage contains elastic fibers in addition to collagen and is found in the outer ear, epiglottis (a flap of tissue in the throat), and the larynx. Elastic cartilage is more flexible than hyaline cartilage and can maintain its shape after being bent or stretched.
  • Fibrocartilage: Fibrocartilage is a tough type of cartilage that contains both collagen and dense fibrous tissue. It is found in structures such as the intervertebral discs of the spine, the pubic symphysis (joint between the pelvic bones), and certain tendons. Fibrocartilage is characterized by its ability to withstand pressure and absorb shock.


Cartilage does not have a direct blood supply, so it has a limited capacity to repair itself compared to other tissues. Injuries to cartilage, such as tears or damage in the joints, can be challenging to heal and may require medical intervention or surgery.


General orthopedic surgeons play a crucial role in diagnosing, treating, and managing orthopedic conditions to help patients restore function, relieve pain, and improve their overall quality of life.

  • Evaluation and Diagnosis
  • Treatment Planning
  • Non-surgical Interventions
  • Surgical Procedures
  • Postoperative Care
  • Collaborative Approach
There are several orthopedic injuries and conditions that can affect cartilage. Some common ones include:
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cartilage tears
  • Chondromalacia patellae
  • Osteochondritis dissecans
  • Articular cartilage injuries
It’s important to note that cartilage injuries can vary in severity, and treatment options depend on factors such as the location, size, and extent of the injury. If you suspect an orthopedic injury involving cartilage, it is best to consult with a medical professional for a proper evaluation and personalized treatment plan.


It’s important to note that the suitability of each procedure depends on various factors, including the size and location of the cartilage defect, patient age, activity level, and overall joint health. The Alabama Bone and Joint orthopedic surgeons specialize in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal disorders and injuries, and they will determine the most appropriate surgical intervention for each individual case.

There are several orthopedic surgeries available for cartilage repair, depending on the location and extent of the cartilage injury. Here are some common surgical procedures used for cartilage repair:

  • Arthroscopic debridement
  • Microfracture
  • Cartilage transplantation
  • Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI)
  • Matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation (MACI)


At our practice, we believe in a collaborative approach to your care. Our surgeons work closely with each other and a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including physical therapists, pain management specialists, and rehabilitation experts. This collaborative effort ensures that you receive comprehensive, tailored treatment plans that prioritize your individual needs and optimize your outcomes.

Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy: General orthopedic care involves collaborating with physical therapists to develop customized rehabilitation programs for patients recovering from injuries or surgeries. Physical therapy aims to restore mobility, strength, and function. optimal outcomes.

Patient Education and Support: General orthopedic specialists educate patients about their condition, treatment options, and self-care strategies. They provide guidance on lifestyle modifications, injury prevention, and ways to maintain musculoskeletal health.


Cartilage repair is a medical procedure aimed at restoring damaged or injured cartilage tissue in joints. Cartilage is a smooth, flexible tissue that covers the ends of bones in joints, allowing for smooth movement and acting as a shock absorber. When cartilage is damaged due to injury, wear and tear, or certain conditions, it can lead to pain, stiffness, and limited joint function.

There are several surgical techniques used for cartilage repair, depending on the size, location, and severity of the cartilage damage. Here are some commonly used procedures:

  • Arthroscopic Debridement: This minimally invasive procedure involves removing loose or damaged cartilage fragments from the joint through small incisions using an arthroscope (a small camera). It is typically used for smaller or less severe cartilage injuries.
  • Microfracture: In this procedure, the surgeon creates small holes in the bone beneath the damaged cartilage. This stimulates the formation of a blood clot that contains cells capable of regenerating new cartilage. Over time, the clot matures into fibrocartilage, which helps to fill in the damaged area. While microfracture can promote cartilage repair, the new tissue may not be as durable or long-lasting as the original cartilage.
  • Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI): ACI involves two stages. In the first stage, a small piece of healthy cartilage is harvested from a non-weight-bearing area of the patient’s own joint. The harvested cartilage is sent to a laboratory where the chondrocytes (cartilage cells) are isolated and cultured to increase their number. In the second stage, the cultured chondrocytes are implanted into the damaged area of the joint, usually with the use of a periosteal patch or synthetic membrane to hold the cells in place. The implanted cells eventually develop into new cartilage.
  • Osteochondral Autograft or Allograft Transplantation: In this procedure, healthy cartilage and a thin layer of underlying bone are harvested from a non-weight-bearing area (autograft) or a donor (allograft) and transplanted into the damaged joint. This technique is particularly useful for larger or deeper cartilage defects.
  • Matrix-Associated Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (MACI): MACI is similar to ACI, but in this procedure, the chondrocytes are embedded in a biocompatible scaffold that is then implanted into the damaged area. The scaffold provides support for the cells and facilitates the regeneration of cartilage.

It’s important to note that the choice of procedure depends on various factors, including the size and location of the cartilage defect, the patient’s age, activity level, and overall joint health. Rehabilitation and physical therapy are integral parts of the recovery process after cartilage repair surgery. The rehabilitation program typically includes exercises to restore strength, flexibility, and joint function.

It’s recommended to consult with an orthopedic surgeon or a specialist in cartilage repair who can evaluate your specific condition, discuss the available treatment options, and determine the most suitable approach for your cartilage repair based on your individual needs.

Microfracture Repair

Microfracture Repair Microfracture is a surgical technique used for cartilage repair in joints. It is typically performed arthroscopically and is most commonly used for smaller cartilage

Read More »

Arthroscopic Debridement

Arthroscopic Debridement Arthroscopic debridement is a surgical procedure that is performed to treat damaged or degenerated cartilage in a joint. It is a minimally invasive procedure

Read More »