Chondrocyte implantation is a two-stage operative procedure used to treat isolated full-thickness articular cartilage defects of the knee.
The first stage takes only 30 minutes and involves harvesting a small piece of articular cartilage from the knee to be sent to a laboratory. In the laboratory, cartilage cells called chondrocytes are removed and allowed to grow over six to eight weeks.
During the second stage, a small patch is sewn over the articular cartilage defect. The cells that were grown in the laboratory from the original cartilage are then injected under the patch, where they adhere to the knee.
You cannot bear weight for up to eight weeks after implantation. During this time, you will go through physical therapy to work on range of motion with your knee. After six months, you will be able to go back to light sports activities. You can typically return to full activities between 9 and 12 months post-surgery.