The treatment of articular cartilage defects using the microfracture technique

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2006 Oct;36(10):728-38. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2006.2444.


Chondral defects of the articular surface pose a challenging problem to the orthopedic surgeon. The goal of surgery is to alleviate pain, maximize function, and prevent degenerative changes in the future. A number of techniques have been described to treat these lesions. When considering the treatment options for chondral defects, the surgeon must consider the size, depth, location, and chronicity of the lesion. In addition, the overall alignment of the joint must be evaluated. Prior to treating chondral defects, it is important to understand the indications and contraindications for the microfracture technique. When indicated, the microfracture technique has many advantages over other surgical options. This technique is relatively easy to perform, cost effective, and has low patient morbidity. In addition, the microfracture technique does not burn any long-term bridges, enabling the surgeon to choose a different procedure to revise the chondral defect if the microfracture fails. It is important to understand the mechanism of healing by microfracture, including the effects of the local environment. The postoperative protocol used after the procedure may be as important as the surgery itself. Understanding the science behind the microfracture procedure will lead to better surgical technique and improved outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroscopy
  • Cartilage Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cartilage Diseases / surgery*
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiopathology*
  • Curettage
  • Debridement
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / physiopathology
  • Joint Diseases / surgery*
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology
  • Knee Joint / surgery*
  • Orthopedic Procedures*