Torn Knee Cartilage: Microfracture

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Articular cartilage is a firm rubbery tissue that covers the ends of bones. It provides a smooth gliding surface for joints and acts as a cushion between bones. Damage to these surfaces is the main problem with arthritis.

When the Procedure is Performed

Cartilage can break down due to overuse or injury. This can lead to pain and swelling and problems using your joint. Your treatment will depend on the size and location of the defect This procedure is performed on people who have a specific cartilage defect typically due to an injury. The injury usually involves a fairly small area of cartilage. Microfracture is not done when cartilage loss is much more extensive.



Small incisions (portals) are made around the joint. The scope and surgical instruments will go into these incisions.


The scope is inserted into the knee. Saline solution flows through a tube (cannula) and into the knee to expand the joint and to improve visualization. The image is sent to a video monitor where the surgeon can see inside the joint.

Cartilage Removal

The damaged cartilage is removed from the joint using a specialized surgical instrument.


After the damaged cartilage is removed, a drill or awl is used to make small holes in the exposed bone. Making these small holes will help bring new blood supply that will help to heal the damaged area. After the holes are drilled, it is important to keep weight off of the leg or healing of the surface will not occur.

End of Procedure

After the drilling is finished, the surgical instruments are removed and the procedure is completed.