What is Osteochondral Autograft Transplantation (OATS)?

cartilage knee knee surgery osteochondral Jun 11, 2022

In osteochondral autograft transplantation (or OATS surgery), cartilage is transferred from one part of the joint to another.

Normal, non-injured cartilage tissue is taken from a non-weight bearing area of the joint and becomes the "graft," which will be used to replace the injured cartilage area.

The cartilage graft is taken as a cylindrical plug of cartilage with the subchondral (underlying) bone. The plug is then matched to the surface area of the defect and impacted into place. The patient is left with a smooth cartilage surface instead of the previous defect.

Most commonly, just one single plug of cartilage may be taken; however, on occasion, multiple plugs may be necessary to deal with a larger area of injury.

Osteochondral autograft is used for smaller cartilage defects. This is because the healthy graft tissue can only be taken from a limited area of the same joint. 

Osteochondral Allograft Transplantation

If a cartilage defect is too large for an autograft (your own tissue), an allograft may be considered. An allograft is a tissue graft taken from a cadaver donor. The donor graft is testes, sterilized and prepared in a state of the art laboratory to ensure it is appropriate for transplantation.

The advantage of an allograft is generally its size - it can be used to manage larger areas of injury. The graft can also be shaped to fit the exact contour of the defect and then press fit into place.

Interested in learning more, request a consultation with Dr. Logan at 720-726-7995.