Torn Knee Cartilage: OATS Procedure

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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.

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. OATS 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.


A plug of healthy bone and cartilage is taken from a non-weight bearing, less important section of your femur. The damaged area is prepared and the new tissue plug is inserted into the site.

Repairing Extensive Damage

Depending on the size and shape of the defect, additional tissue plugs may be taken and inserted into the site to completely fill the damaged area with new cartilage.

End of Procedure

After the tissue is in place, the surgical instruments are removed and the procedure is completed.