Evolution of Technology

Osteochondral Allograft or Autograft Transfer System (OATS)

Osteochondral grafting is a common method for treating injuries of the cartilage that expose the underlying bone (called osteochondral defects, or OCD lesions). During this procedure, osteochondral grafts replace both the joint surface, or articular cartilage as well as the underlying bone. These grafts can come from either the patient’s own body (called an autograft), or from a tissue donor (called an allograft). An instrument is used to removed a portion of the damaged area, and then a replacement piece made up of cartilage and bone from another site is inserted, which ultimately heals over time.

Evolution of Procedure

Cartilage Transfer

In children and young adolescents, the majority of OCD lesion can be treated without surgery, especially when the body is still growing. A period of rest and avoiding vigorous activities usually results in notable pain relief and improved swelling. If symptoms don’t improve after a period of rest and activity modification, then surgery may be an option. Other reasons for which surgery may be recommended is if the lesion has separated from the surrounding bone, or if the lesion is large. There are a few different surgical options. These include drilling into the lesion, which creates healthy bleeding and areas for new blood vessels to supply the affected areas, which ultimately encourages healing of the surrounding bone. Some lesions can be held in place with either pins or screws. Lastly, if the defect is severe enough, an option is to replace the damaged area with a new piece of bone and cartilage – also known as a graft.