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Knee microfracture surgery is a common procedure used to repair damaged knee cartilage. Cartilage is the material that helps cushion and cover the area where bones meet in the joints.
Cartilage regeneration - knee
Three different types of anesthesia may be used for knee arthroscopy surgery:
The surgeon will make a 1/4-inch-long surgical cut (incision) on your knee.
Microfracture surgery is done on people who have small amounts of damage in the cartilage of their knee joint and on the underside of their kneecap.
The goal of this surgery is to prevent or slow further damage to the cartilage from developing, and as a result knee arthritis. It can help people avoid the need for a partial or total knee replacement. It is also used to treat pain in the knee from cartilage injuries.
Another surgery, autologous chondrocyte implantation, is done for similar reasons.
Risks for any anesthesia are:
Risks for microfracture surgery are:
Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During 2 weeks before your surgery:
On the day of your surgery:
Physical therapy may begin in the recovery room right after surgery. A continuous passive motion machine (CPM) gently exercises your leg for 6 to 8 hours a day for several weeks. This machine is usually used for 6 weeks after surgery. Ask your surgeon how long you will use the CPM machine.
Your exercises will increase over time until you regain full range of motion in your knee. These exercises may speed up the new cartilage growth.
You will need to keep your weight off your knee for 6 to 8 weeks unless instructed otherwise. You will need crutches to get around. Keeping the weight off the knee will allow the new cartilage to regrow and form better tissue.
Physical therapy and doing exercises at home are needed for 3 to 6 months after surgery to get the best results.
Many people improve after this surgery, but recovery is slow. Many can return to sports or other intense activities in about 4 months. Athletes in very intense sports may not be able to return to their former level of competition.
Results are best when this surgery is done on people younger than 40 whose cartilage injury is recent. Results are also better for people that are not overweight. It is also most successful for small amounts of damage in the knee cartilage.
Beynnon BD, Johnson RJ, Brown L. Knee. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 23.
Saris DB, Vanlauwe J, Victor J, Almqvist KF, Verdonk R, Bellemans J, et al. Treatment of symptomatic cartilage defects of the knee: characterized chondrocyte implantation results in better clinical outcome at 36 months in a randomized trial compared to microfracture. Am J Sports Med. 2009 Nov;37 Suppl 1:10S-19S.
Basad E, Ishaque B, Bachmann G, Stürz H, Steinmeyer J. Matrix-inducedautologous chondrocyte implantation versus microfracture in the treatment ofcartilage defects of the knee: a 2-year randomised study. Knee Surg SportsTraumatol Arthrosc. 2010 Apr;18(4):519-27.
Hurst JM, Steadman JR, O'Brien L, Rodkey WG, Briggs KK. Rehabilitation following microfracture for chondral injury in the knee. Clin Sports Med. 2010 Apr;29(2):257-65, viii.