Micro fracture is a surgical option used in the treatment of areas of damaged cartilage. When a patient has a small area of damaged cartilage (not widespread knee arthritis), micro fracture may be performed in an attempt to stimulate new cartilage growth.
A micro fracture creates small holes in the bone. The surface layer of bone, called the subchondral bone, is hard and lacks good blood flow. By penetrating this hard layer, a micro fracture allows the deeper, more vascular bone to access the surface layer. This deeper bone has more blood supply, and the cells can then get to the surface layer and stimulate cartilage growth.
Who is a good candidate for micro fracture?
Micro fracture surgery is a particular cartilage repair surgical technique that works by creating tiny fractures in the underlying bone. This causes new cartilage to develop from a so-called super-clot.
A micro fracture is performed as part of an arthroscopic knee surgery.
First, the area undergoing micro fracture is prepared by removing any loose or damaged cartilage. Ideally, the area undergoing micro fracture will be less than about 2 centimeters in diameter and have good, healthy surrounding cartilage. Then, a small, sharp pick (awl) is used to create the small micro fracture holes in the bone.