How to Repair and Build Joint Cartilage?

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Marrow stimulation

This is marrow stimulation. The goal of this surgery is to stimulate the bone narrow to help make new cartilage.

Surgeon will make a tiny hole into the bone near to the cartilage damage. This is intended to release bone marrow which then can help make a blood clot forming in the cartilage damage. Eventually, the marrow cells will help stimulate the new cartilage production.

Unfortunately, the new cartilage that occurs is usually fibrocartilage, not articular cartilage. Fibrocartilage is commonly found between the bones of the pelvis, hips, and discs (vertebrae).

Fibrocartilage is not as though as articular cartilage, and relatively easier to break down and wear away. That’s why the further surgery may be required after a few years.


It often works successfully. But it is usually only recommended for cartilage damage with small areas, why?

In this surgery, surgeon will take small dowels of other healthy cartilage for your body, typically from the side of your knees or non-weight bearing cartilage of your joint. Then these healthy tissues will be used to replace the damaged tissues of cartilage.

Since the source for healthy cartilage tissues is limited, this surgery is not recommended for large areas of cartilage damage. Taking too much healthy tissues of cartilage from other sites can be too risky.

AOT (allograft osteochondral transplantation)

It works like mosaicplasty, what is the difference? In AOT, the healthy tissues of cartilage are taken from a recently deceased donor. Therefore, AOT can be used for large areas of cartilage damage.

ACI (autologous chondrocyte implantation)

The drawback, this surgery can be so expensive and usually offered by very few hospitals. But it doesn’t require donor from others.

In ACI, the surgeon takes a small piece of your healthy cartilage tissues /cells. It then will be stimulated in the laboratory by giving it adequate nutrient to grow and produce new cells.

After a few weeks, some new cells are generated. Then these new cells can be used to replace the damaged cells of cartilage.

The use of artificial scaffolds

It is a new technique to build and repair joint cartilage damage by implanting an artificial scaffold (it can be gel or patch, made up of proteins and collagen). The scaffold can be soaked in bone narrow to stimulate the stem cells in repairing the damaged cartilage.

Citations /references:


Last accessed on September 2014

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