Can You Get a Cartilage Transplant?

Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018

Ask the experts

I've heard recently about cartilage transplants. Your website mentions them as experimental at this point and that when they are done it is usually on a young person. I'm 58 years old and have osteoarthritis due to 35 years on the tennis court and some family predisposition to the disease. I also have developed a baker's cyst behind one knee. Is cartilage transplant a possibility in my case or should I just go ahead with the arthroscopic surgery that my doctor recommended? thank you.

Doctor's response

It is impossible for anyone but a patient's doctor to give appropriate advice regarding their individual condition. As stated in's Osteoarthritis article, "Recently, surgical innovation has led to a technique for the repair of isolated splits of cartilage (fissures) of the knee. In this procedure, a patient's own cartilage is actually grown in the laboratory, then inserted into the fissure area and sealed over with a "patch" of the patient's own bone covering the tissue. While this is not a procedure for the cartilage damage of osteoarthritis, it does open the door for future cartilage research. " Generally, osteoarthitis that is the result of 35 years of 'wear and tear' degeneration would not be categorized as an "isolated split" of cartilage, but rather a diffuse fragile softening and could not be repaired with the experimental transplant technique.