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Arthroscopic Chondroplasty

Patella Femoral Arthritis

Arthritis of the knee is a leading cause of disability in the United States. Patellofemoral arthritis affects your kneecap (patella bone). It causes pain in the front of your knee and can make it difficult to kneel and climb stairs.

Patellofemoral arthritis occurs when the articular cartilage along the trochlear groove and on the underside of the patella wears down and becomes inflamed. When cartilage wears away, it becomes frayed, and when the wear is severe, the underlying bone may become exposed. Moving the bones along this rough surface is painful.

Arthroscopic Chondroplasty

Arthroscopic chondroplasty is commonly performed during knee arthroscopy. It is utilized for treating incidentally-foundchondral lesions during surgery. It can also be utilized for small areas of superficial cartilage damage in patients that experience joint pain, suffer from arthritis and have associated mechanical symptoms.

Chondroplasty is an option in cases of mild to moderate cartilage wear. During arthroscopy the loose cartilage flaps and debris within the knee are removed using an arthroscopic shaver. Great care is taken to avoid damaging normal cartilage. The goal of surgery is to eliminate catching and locking from these loose pieces of cartilage and to try to prevent propagation of these chondral flaps. Your surgeon will smooth roughened arthritic joint surfaces.

Postoperative management is identical to that of basic knee arthroscopic procedures:

Most patients have their arthroscopic surgery as outpatients and are home several hours after the surgery. The small puncture wounds take several days to heal however, it takes several weeks for the joint to maximally recover.

After patellar surgery a patient’s knee and leg may temporarily behave as if they are “in shock”. The knee joint may remain swollen and irritable for quite some time, and the leg may lose quite a bit of thigh muscle tone and strength. A specific activity and rehabilitation program may be suggested to speed your recover and protect future joint function.

Special physical therapy regimens that involve electrical muscle stimulation and biofeedback are required to gradually “re-educate” the dysfunctional leg muscles, teaching them how to contract fully again so that they may then be strengthened through routine resistance exercise. Despite such difficulties, if a patient’s knee pain is alleviated by the surgery, near-complete restoration of muscle function may be possible following a diligent rehabilitation regimen.

It is not unusual for patients to go back to work or school or resume daily activities within a few days. Athletes and others who are in good physical condition may in some cases return to athletic activities within a few weeks. Remember, though, that people who have arthroscopy can have many different diagnoses and preexisting conditions, so each patient’s arthroscopic surgery is unique to that person. Recovery time will reflect that individuality.