Articular cartilage is the smooth, white tissue that covers the ends of bones where they come together to form joints. Healthy cartilage in our joints makes it easier to move. It allows the bones to glide over each other with very little friction.
Articular cartilage can be damaged by injury or normal wear and tear. Because cartilage does not heal itself well, doctors have developed surgical techniques to stimulate the growth of new cartilage. Restoring articular cartilage can relieve pain and allow better function. Most importantly, it can delay or prevent the onset of arthritis.
If a cartilage defect is too large for an autograft, an allograft may be considered. An allograft is a tissue graft taken from a cadaver donor. Like an autograft, it is a block of cartilage and bone. In the laboratory it is sterilized and prepared. It is tested for any possible disease transmission.
An allograft is typically larger than an autograft. It can be shaped to fit the exact contour of the defect and then press fit into place. Allografts are typically done through an open incision.