While cartilage is essential for ensuring smooth, painless movement of the joints, some areas have a more critical need for the support and cushioning provided by the cartilage. Repair of such cartilagenous defects has grown significantly with the advent of OATS technique and enables us to fill up large full thickness cartilage losses. The losses in cartilage can be due to either a traumatic event or a degenerative process.
The OATS procedure is a treatment option focusing on biologic joint preservation. It can be considered as a good option in young patients who have a focal cartilage erosion. This technique utilizes a cartilage graft from non-weight bearing areas of the patients knee and replaces damaged cartilage, relieving pain and restoring movement and function to the joint. A mosaicplasty is the name for a general procedure that treats severe cartilage damage, and the OATS procedure is a type of mosaicplasty.
For smaller defects or defects in the non weight bearing area, Microfracture technique has also been documeted to yeild good results. This technique makes use of a micro-fracture instrumentation to make small holes in the bone deficient in cartilage. This makes the affected area actively bleeding which helps in organising a clot and healing with secondary cartilage.
Patients report good to excellent results depending on the area, the time duration between injury to surgery and the age of the patient. It is advised to have a time period of 6 weeks where the patient is told not bear weight or bend the knee post surgery.
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