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Treatment Options

Johns Hopkins Bayview is one of few hospitals in the United States to offer patients access to the world’s strongest and largest open bore MRI. This state-of-the-art technology improves patient comfort while providing superior image quality and better definition of damaged cartilage. This, in turn, promotes the most accurate diagnosis and best possible treatment for cartilage problems.

The Cartilage Restoration Center offers many of the latest methods to restore or replace damaged cartilage. Knees are the body part most commonly treated. These options give patients a more normal surface and cushions to enhance the longevity of the joint. Younger patients—those in their teens and up to about 40 years of age—are typically the best candidates for these procedures. However, patients up to age 50 may be treated as well.

The five major procedures performed in our cartilage restoration center are as follows:

  • Microfracture helps to preserve and restore function by allowing the patient’s own body to repair the damage. Small holes are drilled on the surface of the knee where the cartilage is defective. Resulting blood clots prompt the formation of a cartilage-like scar and regenerate repair tissue.
  • Chondral transfer involves a transfer of cartilage from a non-weight-bearing location in the joint to a damaged, weight-bearing area. By replacing cartilage in defective, weight-bearing areas, patients will have healthy cartilage where they need it the most.
  • Autologous chondrocyte implantation involves the removal of cartilage cells from a non-weight-bearing area of the knee. The cells are sent to a laboratory where they can be cultured to grow more cartilage cells. The new cells then are transplanted back into the patient to replace large cartilage surface defects in the knee. These cells grow repair tissue that is quite similar to original cartilage.
  • Meniscal allograft and osteochondral allograft surgery uses cartilage from a deceased donor to replace deficient cartilage in patients’ knees.
  • Osteotomy is a complementary procedure that involves cutting the bone to change its alignment to improve the outcomes of cartilage restoration.

Any of these may help replace damaged cartilage, decrease pain and delay arthritis.

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