For the repair of symptomatic cartilage defects of the femoral condyle (medial

Repairing Symptomatic Cartilage Defects of the Femoral Condyle with a Microfracture Technique

Symptomatic cartilage defects of the femoral condyle, located on the thigh bone's lower end, can cause excruciating pain and impede regular mobility. However, there is a way to repair this type of fracture with a microfracture technique.

This technique uses the patient's own blood components and a small bore (or needle-like) instrument to create an opening within the cartilage to pull stem cells through. By introducing the cells too close to the defect in the cartilage, it can bridge the gap and create a cushion-like structure. This allows the damaged area to heal more effectively and more quickly.

The microfracture technique requires a thorough examination of the femoral condyle and musculoskeletal anatomy since the soda straw-like instrument can reach a depth of 1 cm.

Once ready, the surgeon will plan the procedure carefully. To begin, an arthroscope is inserted into the joint space and the cartilage defect meticulously mapped to ensure complete coverage. A small burr is then used to create a tiny hole inside the cartilage, after which a harpoon-like device (or graspers) is used to drag the defect closer to the edge to make it easier to grasp. With a cauterization instrument, the defect can then be trimmed and cauterized from the surrounding tissue.

After the defect has been cauterized, the patient's own blood or bone marrow aspirate is then gently sucked out from the tissue and injected into the defect. This will elicit a specific response from the surrounding cells, allowing them to form a bridge over the defect and heal it.

Once the defect has been successfully bridged, the area is then cleared of any debris and a sterile dressing is then placed. Movements may need to be restricted for a couple of weeks and the patient may be prescribed physiotherapy or occupational therapy to strengthen their knees.

This procedure, however, may not be suitable for all types of cartilage defects and, in some cases, the defect may need to be surgically repaired. Whatever the treatment, it is essential to consult with an experienced surgeon to ensure the best possible outcomes.

Benefits of the Procedure

  • Minimally Invasive Procedure: The procedure is minimally invasive, meaning that only a small incision is required and there is no need for general anesthesia.
  • Minimally Disruptive: This technique is minimally disruptive when compared to arthroscopic surgeries, with no need to remove healthier tissue from the surrounding area.
  • No Scarring: Unlike other invasive treatments, this procedure does not cause any permanent scarring or deformity to the joint.
  • Minimizes Pain: This procedure offers relief from the excruciating pain experienced due to cartilage defects.
  • High Success Rate: The success rate associated with the microfracture technique is high, with many patients reporting full recovery after 6-12 months.