How are Cartilage Injuries Diagnosed?
Dr. Mazzara will conduct a thorough history and background, along with a physical examination of the knee. In some cases, a knee injury does not coincide with symptoms of knee pain or weakness and may overlap with other injuries to the joint. If a cartilage injury is suspected, Dr. Mazzara will always perform specially positioned weight bearing x-ray of the knee to evaluate for bone injury, joint alignment and arthritis. If there is some question regarding the extent of the injury, an MRI will be ordered.
How is an Injury of the Knee Cartilage Treated?
Once a knee cartilage injury has been diagnosed, Dr. Mazzara will explain the injury and the best treatment options for the patient.
Does Cartilage Damage Require Surgery?
Depending on the type, location and severity of the tear, many patients respond well to a non-surgical approach. This includes rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) of the knee. Anti-inflammatory medication can be prescribed to help with swelling and pain. In certain cases, injections of cortisone or other biologic agents may help alleviate symptoms and improve function. Physical therapy can be extremely helpful in helping patients recover from cartilage injuries by improving flexibility and strengthening those muscles which may have been injured or may be weak leading to the injury itself.
How is Cartilage Damage Treated with Surgery?
There are several surgical options used to repair an injured knee cartilage. Dr. Mazzara will carefully consider the patient age, activity level, type of tear and size of lesion. Here are a few possible surgical treatments options:
- Debridement (shaving): Done arthroscopically, this procedure smooths down, or shaves the damaged cartilage. Loose debris are removed to prevent further irritation.
- Microfracture: Also called marrow stimulation, this procedure is used to treat damaged areas of articular cartilage in the knee. Small holes are made in the bone, causing it to bleed which stimulates healing and neocartilage (new cartilage) formation.
- Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI): This is a surgical procedure where cartilage fragments are taken from the knee during a surgical procedure called an arthroscopy. These harvested pieces of cartilage are then sent to a special laboratory where they are grown and multiply for a second procedure when they are implanted in the cartilage defect in the patient’s knee.
- DeNovo uses juvenile cartilage cells from a donor which are implanted into a defect in a patient’s knee.
If you have questions about treatment options for a knee cartilage injury, or to inquire about knee pain and other related symptoms, please contact the orthopedic offices of Dr. James Mazzara, orthopedic knee specialist in Manchester, South Windsor, Enfield, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities.