Cartilage defects that extend into the underlying bone can be very painful and cause swelling, locking and instability of the knee. These osteochondral defects can be difficult to treat and will require repair of the damaged bone and cartilage.
A very reliable way to treat these defects is with an osteochondral transfer. This procedure involves taking a plug of healthy bone with its cartilage cap from a healthy section of the knee (normally the trochlea) and transplanting it into the bad patch of bone and cartilage. Usually one plug is sufficient but several can be used (mosaic plasty).
If the defective section is very large allograft (donated cadeveric) osteochondral plugs can be used.
This type of surgery can be performed either arthroscopicly (key hole) or as a mini open operation depending on the size and location of the defect. You will normally be in hospital overnight and home the next day. Crutches are used for the first 4-6 weeks and a full recovery can take 6 months or more.