This technique involves treating areas of full-thickness cartilage loss (bare bone) in weight bearing areas of the knee joint by taking cylinders of cartilage and bone from an area in of the knee not involved in weight bearing and placing them into cylindrical areas created in the bare bone area. As many plugs are used as are required to fill the defect, or as are available from the “donor” site. The technique gives articular cartilage cover in the bare-bone area as it is cylinders of articular cartilage (ad underlying bone) that are transplanted.
The technique can sometimes be performed arthroscopically (through key-hole surgery) but a single open operation may be needed for certain defects.
The technique has the advantage that the patients own tissue is used as the cartilage graft and healing of the cartilage cylinders occurs quickly, but has the disadvantage that “Peter is robbed to pay Paul” and sometimes patients can experience discomfort from the donor site. In addition the amount of donor tissue is limited, so large defects may not be fully treated with this technique.