We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation?

By Carol Kindle
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Autologous chondrocyte implantation is a surgical procedure that is performed on a patient to repair damaged cartilage in the knee. Cartilage serves as a cushion between bones but when it is damaged, it cannot repair itself. Chondrocytes are cells that secrete cartilage and these cells can be used as a biomedical treatment to repair cartilage.

If a patient sustains a knee injury or trauma that damages the cartilage, he or she may qualify for autologous chondrocyte implantation. The procedure cannot be performed on patients suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis since those conditions cause the cartilage to break down and any new cartilage would deteriorate as well. Autologous refers to harvesting and implanting the patient’s own cells.

A patient who experiences pain, swelling, or restricted movement of the knee would first need to have X-rays or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) done of the area. The surgeon would then decide whether to perform the autologous chondrocyte implantation. This surgery is done in two steps with the first step being a minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. A camera is inserted into the knee joint to examine any damage to the cartilage. At the same time, a small biopsy or sample can be taken of the cartilage.

This cartilage sample is sent off to a lab where the cells are extracted from the cartilage with enzymes. These cells are then cultured in a tissue culture dish in the lab where they will grow and divide and generate millions of cells. Cells can grow outside of the body in a protein solution containing nutrients and serum taken from the patient. After several weeks, the laboratory delivers the patient’s cells back to the surgeon and the second part of the surgery is scheduled.

The second step of the surgery is done by making an incision into the knee area to expose the damaged cartilage. A piece of the periosteum, the outer membrane covering the bone, is carefully removed from a bone in the knee area. The periosteum is sewn over the area of damaged cartilage and the surgeon can then inject the cultured cells through the membrane into the cartilage. These cells will then secrete cartilage and should repair the defective area.

For the first 10-12 weeks after surgery, the patient will need to avoid twisting or putting any weight on the knee. The patient should follow the exercise program recommended by the surgeon or physical therapist. Complete recovery from the autologous chondrocyte implantation may take several months to a year.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.