What is this procedure?

Chondroplasty is a procedure that can be performed as part of a knee arthroscopy (keyhole surgery to the knee) to smooth down damaged articular cartilage. The ‘articular’ cartilage is the cartilage that lines the bone ends, and allows the two surfaces of the joint to move smoothly against each other. Damage to this cartilage can lead to flaps and steps in the cartilage which then get caught against each other, leading to pain. Chondroplasty involves removing damaged articular cartilage from the joint: The aim is to smooth out the joint surface by shaving off rough areas. The procedure is done as a day case procedure.

Who should consider this operation?

If you have knee pain and symptoms of localised catching which impact on your day to day activities despite a period of pain relief and physiotherapy, a knee arthroscopy may be recommended. If loose flaps or rough edges of cartilage are present on arthroscopy then the chondroplasty may be appropriate. The cartilage does not repair itself and a knee replacement may be required in the future.

If your cartilage damage is very extensive and pain is generalised then chondroplasty is unlikely to provide lasting relief from your symptoms. A knee replacement may be more appropriate.

What are the benefits?

Like other arthroscopic surgery, chondroplasty is minimally invasive and can provide good symptom relief for selected individuals.

What are the risks?

The potential complications are as for knee arthroscopy.

What happens in the post-operative period?

Post-operative recovery is as for knee arthroscopy.

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