Cartilage Regeneration: Causes and Treatment Options

Ankle osteoarthritis is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the ankle joint. Traditional treatments like joint fusion can limit mobility. An alternative procedure called ankle distraction arthroplasty has been gaining some traction, but how well does it hold up in the long term? 

A recent study by Greenfield et al. (2019) investigated this very question. They conducted a survival analysis of ankle distraction arthroplasty for ankle osteoarthritis. Their findings suggest that this procedure may be a viable option for some patients. 

Key takeaways from the study: 

  • Ankle distraction arthroplasty showed promising results, with an 84% survival rate at 5 years. This is better than some previously reported outcomes. 
  • The study also identified factors that can influence the success of the procedure. Avascular necrosis of the talus (bone death) was associated with a lower survival rate. Additionally, sex may play a role, with the study suggesting potential gender differences in long-term outcomes. 

What this means for patients: 

Ankle distraction arthroplasty offers a potential option for preserving joint mobility in patients with ankle osteoarthritis. This study provides valuable data for surgeons and patients to consider when making treatment decisions. 

Important to note: 

  • This was a retrospective study, meaning researchers analyzed past data. More robust research designs are needed to confirm these findings. 
  • The study involved a relatively small group of patients. Larger studies are necessary to draw more definitive conclusions. 

Overall, this research suggests that ankle distraction arthroplasty may be a valuable tool for treating ankle osteoarthritis. However, more research is needed to solidify its place as a standard treatment option. 

ReferenceGreenfield, S., Matta, K. M., McCoy, T. H., Rozbruch, S. R., & Fragomen, A. (2019). Ankle distraction arthroplasty for ankle osteoarthritis: a survival analysis. Strategies in trauma and limb reconstruction, 14(2), 65.,and%2037%25%20within%205%20years


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional to discuss your individual treatment options.

Cartilage Regeneration
Image Credit: OrthoWorld 

“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos – the trees, the clouds, everything.”- Thich Nhat Hanh

Osteoarthritis affects up to 55 million adults annually. As a condition that is associated with articular cartilage abnormalities, mobility is often affected. The need to heal osteoarthritis therefore, becomes of great importance. There are a variety of preventative and therapeutic treatments that are available for the management of Osteoarthritis. 

What is Cartilage Regeneration? 

Modern living brings with it added mobility. Ageing is much less of a factor today, than it was in previous generations. Regardless of stage in life, individuals want the ability to do more than just the day to day living, they want to do things like go sporting and even go on vacations. With age and even sporting activities comes joint degeneration, and with the ability to improve joint health via science and technology, patients are able to have their joint functions restored, and have the ability to resume their lives as normal. 

Orthopaedic surgery has evolved to a point where there are a series of surgical techniques which have facilitated the restoration of cartilage. Cartilage regeneration is one such procedure, which facilitates joint restoration and improved mobility. Consult with your orthopaedic surgeon today, to determine if this treatment will be right for your joint pain. Cartilage regeneration is ideal for the treatment of various root causes of joint pain, and may just be what you need to restore your life activity. 

How does Cartilage Regeneration work? 

Cartilage regeneration improves joint function by restoration of the articular or joint cartilage. The cartilage in the joint is a fusion of various components such as collagens, proteoglycans and sustaining proteins. Cartilage is alive, and contains about 85% water, and the balance is binding elements. Cartilage is the joint’s natural cushion. Since joints have a hinge mechanism, motion can induce wear and tear in the cartilage, and decrease the thickness of the film. As we age, the water content, and chondrocyte cell count reduces in number. Chondrocyte cells hold the cartilage matrix together and give it its strength and ability to line the surrounding bones. Additionally, illnesses such as Osteoarthritis have been heavily linked to cartilage damage. Patients often complain of joint stiffness, with restricted mobility. 

How does Cartilage Regeneration Work? 

Cartilage is not a self healing material. From the medical innovation perspective, many efforts have been undertaken to understand why this is so, and what can be done to improve joint health, knowing this condition. The articular cartilage therefore has to be externally generated, and a transplant into the site of injury be facilitated as the treatment method. Essentially, if the body won’t create it, the aim is to synthesise it and restore what was lost in the natural processes of life. 

Your orthopaedic surgeon will identify the best path forward for your treatments. With an assortment of treatment options from abrasion, microfracture, mosaicplasty, autologous chondrocyte implantation, osteochondral allografts and matrix assisted chondrocyte implantation there are a variety of paths for treatments. Some treatments are acute, and others require more advanced preparatory methods for healing. Research methods are still being studied, to determine which methods are ideal for healing. As an emerging technology, there are limited guarantees, but over time the procedures are finding favour in the eyes of the orthopaedic specialists. 

Cartilage Regeneration Options

Membrane-induced Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (MACI): A surgical procedure that incorporates harvested and cultured chondrocyte cells into the damaged cartilage of the knees.

Osteochondral Grafting : Osteochondral grafting is a cartilage regeneration procedure that replaces the cartilage and the underlying bone. 

Osteoarticular Transfer System (OATS) Procedure

The OATS procedure, also called mosaicplasty, involves taking healthy cartilage from non-weight-bearing areas of the joint and transplanting it into the damaged areas. 


Osteotomy is a surgical procedure that involves cutting and/or reshaping the bone. The procedure is coupled with other cartilage regeneration methods.


Cartilage Regeneration Clinic:

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest

Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

Leave a comment

Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

Copyright © 2022