Are you a candidate for cartilage transplantation?5 July, 2013
Back to News

What is cartilage transplantation? 
How do I know if I am a candidate?

Dr. Robert FitzGibbons - Cartilage Transplant


Dr. Robert FitzGibbons explains cartilage transplantation.  For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. FitzGibbons to discuss if you are a candidate for a cartilage transplant call 303-772-1600.



Cartilage transplantation has many facets.  Specifically, it entails harvesting cartilage from an area of the patient’s knee that is not as important as the weight bearing surface that you walk on, specifically talking most commonly about the medial or lateral femoral condyle (end of the thigh bone). 

pot holeA nice analogy is that when you drive down the road, the road is smooth, except for one isolated pothole.  A work crew can come and fill in that pothole to make the road smooth in its entirety again.  Similarly, if there is a discrete defect in the end of the thigh bone (medial or lateral femoral condyle), a plug of cartilage can be harvested from elsewhere in the patient’s own knee and placed in the defect to “fill the pothole”.

Cartilage defects can also be treated by micro fracture which entails placing holes in the defect to allow the bone to bring in possible healing cells to fill in the defect.  The problem with micro fracture is that you are counting on Mother Nature to fill a hole which is much more difficult than taking a plug of cartilage and actually filling that hole completely.

Another type of treatment for cartilage damage that is more diffuse in a relatively young patient (less than 50-years-old) is to harvest cartilage from the patient’s knee, take the cells into a laboratory and grow the cells and then bring the patient back and fill the diffuse cartilage damaged area with the cells in the hope that they will proliferate (multiply) and fill in the more diffuse extensive type of cartilage loss.


The discussion above applies mainly to localized cartilage defects and not global cartilage loss.

Global cartilage loss unfortunately usually requires artificial replacement, whether it be a hemi Arthroplasty which entails replacing half of the knee, a total knee Arthroplasty, which entails replacing both the medial and the lateral side of the knee, as well as the patellar surface.  Finally, there is an Arthroplasty of the patellofemoral mechanism which entails artificial prosthesis that is placed in the kneecap region, if the lower portion of the knee (the part you walk on), has relatively well maintained cartilage.


To schedule an appointment with Dr. FitzGibbons call 303-772-1600.

Meet Dr. FitzGibbons through his personal video and visit Dr. FitzGibbons' bio page here

Make a Payment
Longmont  •  Lafayette  •  Frederick     303-772-1600