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Procedures

Chondral Debridement

General Information

Chrondal is a medical term that means cartilage. Joints in your body are cushioned by cartilage to prevent bone ends from rubbing together or cause friction. The most common location of chondral injury or damage is the knee joint. The cartilage covers the ends of bones in a joint. The process of debridement cleans up worn, torn or damaged sections of chondral cartilage so it heals properly. Because torn or damaged cartilage does not heal itself, a process of debridement is often necessary to encourage healing and restoration of function.

Reasons for Chondral Debridement

  • Chondral defects
  • Lesions
  • Enhance healing
  • Defects on the distal or lower end of the femur or thighbone

Diagnosis

Your doctor may determine that your chondral knee cartilage is damaged through a physical examination and asking you questions, as well as numerous diagnostic approaches, including:

  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • MRI
  • Arthroscopy

Surgery

A chondral defect debridement procedure is performed using an arthroscope. You may be given a regional anesthetic block so you will be awake during the procedure, or your doctor may recommend general anesthesia so you'll sleep during the procedure. The surgery is performed using the arthroscope, known as keyhole surgery. This type of procedure uses very small (usually less than a half an inch in length) incisions through which the arthroscopy is inserted. This allows the surgeon to view the inside of your knee joint. Other tools and an irrigation wand are used to scrape away damaged pieces of cartilage, which is then flushed and sucked up into a tube. Following the procedure, the surgeon may place one or two stitches to close the incision, which is then wrapped.

What to Expect

Following the procedure, you can expect several phases of healing and physical therapy. You may need to wear a knee brace depending on your condition and prognosis. Weight bearing will be as tolerated, with your therapist helping you with range of motion exercise. As your knee or joint heals, you'll be encouraged to perform therapeutic exercises, gradually returning to full weight-bearing status and strengthening of the joint.