Cartilage Restoration

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Cartilage Restoration

Cartilage injuries can be painful and, if left untreated, can eventually lead to arthritis. The goal of cartilage restoration is to remove pain and prevent further damage to the joint. 


Cartilage restoration can be performed using the patient's own cartilage or from live cartilage harvested from organ donors. The orthopedic surgeons at BayCare Clinic are leaders in cartilage restoration and were the first to offer cell-based cartilage transplants in the region. 


Your Own Cartilage

Using the Osteoarticular Transfer System, or OATS Surgery, damaged cartilage in the knee is replaced with healthy cartilage from another area of the joint.  A small plug of bone and cartilage is removed from an area with less critical need and moved to the damaged site. 


The Caritcel procedure is another option to repair cartilage damage using the patient's own cartilage.  In this procedure, however, the patient's cartilage cells are sent to a specialized lab. After about six weeks these cells will have grown enough to proceed with surgery.


The Carticel procedure is most common in younger patients, including adolescents, because of its extensive durability.  Studies show that even 10 years after the procedure, as many as 75% to 85% of patients are still experiencing excellent results.


Carticel has been approved for use in the U.S. for about 13 years, but is still not widely available.  Dr. Jon Henry, one of BayCare Clinic's orthopedic surgeons, not only offers the Carticel procedure but also teaches other physicians how to perform this state-of-the-art cartilage restoration surgery.


Donor Cartilage

As an alternative to harvesting the patient's own cartilage, cartilage restoration procedures can be performed using an off-the-shelf product called DeNovo NT (Natural Tissue). DeNovo Natural Tissue is harvested from organ donors, typically under the age of 12. Juvenile cartilage has a far greater success rate for regeneration.


By using donor cartilage, the surgery is reduced to a one-step process and patients don't have to wait for their own cartilage to grow.  Beyond the wait time, donor cartilage removes the risk of damaging the patient's own healthy tissue. 


The orthopedic surgeons at BayCare Clinic having been using DeNovo NT in knee repairs since 2009, shortly after the product launched. BayCare Clinic physician Dr. Robert Limoni is also doing some pioneering work in the use of DeNovo NT cartilage restoration for ankle repairs.


Additional Resources

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

American Academy of Sports Medicine




Cartilage Transplantation Treatment Options



If you have chronic joint pain and are considering knee replacement or ankle surgery, please request an appointment online or call our office to find out if cartilage restoration could work for you.



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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.