Articular Cartilage Problems – Drilling/Microfracture

Removal of Damaged Cartilage: Introduction

Articular cartilage is a firm rubbery tissue that covers the ends of bones. It provides a smooth gliding surface for joints and acts as a cushion between bones.

When the Procedure is Performed

Cartilage can break down due to overuse or injury. This can lead to pain and swelling and problems with your joint. Your treatment will depend on the size of the defect and the judgment of your surgeon.


Small incisions (portals) are made around the joint. The scope and surgical instruments will go into these incisions.


The scope is inserted into the knee. Saline solution flows through a tube (cannula) and into the knee to expand the joint and to improve visualization. The image is sent to a video monitor where the surgeon can see inside the joint.

Cartilage Removal

The damaged cartilage is removed from the joint using a specialized surgical instrument.


After the damaged cartilage is removed, a drill or pick is used to make small holes in the exposed bone. Making these small holes will help heal the damaged area, thus the term “drilling/microfracture”.

End of Procedure

After the drilling is finished, the surgical instruments are removed and the procedure is completed.

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