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Kneecap Surgery: Cartilage Removal

Surgery may be used when pain severely limits your activities. Or it may be done when a rehab program or other nonsurgical treatments just are not helping enough. Some procedures may be done using arthroscopy. This method uses tiny incisions and special instruments to look and work inside the knee joint. Other procedures need open surgery.

Cartilage removal

Damaged cartilage is removed from the back of the kneecap and/or from the groove in the thighbone. This is often done using arthroscopy.

Back view of patella showing instrument removing damaged cartilage.


This removes damaged cartilage on the kneecap or thighbone (femur) to create a smoother surface between them. 

Back view of patella showing instrument burring damaged cartilage.


This is done when the cartilage is worn down to the bone. Burring into the bone reaches the blood supply. This allows a new fibrous covering to grow.

Recovering from surgery

As you recover, you can aid the healing process by taking it easy at first. Follow the instructions of your surgeon. Your knee may be bandaged, wrapped, or iced to keep swelling down. You may be given a brace to protect your knee. This helps improve your range of motion and speed healing. Keep your leg raised above your heart so fluid can drain away and swelling is reduced. Surgery is often followed by a rehabilitation or physical therapy program.

Online Medical Reviewer: Joseph, Thomas N., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
Last Review Date: 10/15/2015
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