Osteoarticular transfer system (OATS) is a surgical procedure that is done in order to try to correct focal defects in the cartilage of the knees. This particular technique is referred to as mosaicplasty. Articular cartilage is the smooth cartilage that covers the bone where it connects to the joints. Damage to this cartilage occurs from injury or trauma. The OATS surgery has had much clinical success, but limitations include the inability to deal with large osteochondral defects and possible damage to donor sites.
The OATS procedure is the only surgery that replaces defects in articular cartilage. The Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon selects the donor site, inspects the chondral defect through the arthroscope, and the size of the lesion. The donor graft harvester is placed in joint over the selected site. The next step is the tubular harvester is positioned to cover the defect, and a mallet drives the graft into the socket.
With the OATs procedure, the orthopedic surgeon uses cartilage from an undamaged area of the joint to replace damaged knee cartilage. The OATS process is only effective in cases of focal cartilage repair and for isolated areas that are limited to 10 to 20 millimeters in size. This type of damage is most commonly seen in younger people. The OATS procedure prevents the damage from getting worse over time. Generally, these small areas of damage to the cartilage are caused by trauma, such as a fall or injury to the area.
In order to determine if this type of procedure is the correct approach for your needs, an x-ray and MRI will first be taken of the knee. The imaging studies show the orthopedic doctor how much damage is present in the area and if an OATS procedure is possible. If the x-ray shows a large amount of damage present on the cartilage, then the doctor will discuss other methods of treatment that are available to effectively treat the condition. Some methods that may be considered include cartilage restoration and replacement of cartilage in severe cases.
The OATS procedure is performed using arthroscopy. The LA orthopedic surgeon uses a small camera device (called an arthroscope) to look inside the knee and make necessary repairs. The device is inserted via small incisions made around the knee. There are certain areas of the body that do not require as much cartilage as others. While large pieces of the cartilage are not removed during the OATS procedure, very small pieces referred to as plugs are taken from the healthy area.
In some cases, these plugs may be removed from a few different areas in order to take away as little cartilage as possible. Once the plugs have been removed, the sports medicine surgeon will remove the damaged cartilage and “plug” the damaged areas with the healthy cartilage. This method is generally simple because of the small surgical area, and the new cartilage will begin to form to the existing cartilage over the healing period.
The OATS procedure is the only surgery that replaces defects in articular cartilage. The orthopedic surgeon selects the donor site, inspects the chondral defect through the arthroscope, and the size of the lesion. The donor graft pieces of cartilage are placed in the joint over the damaged site.
After the surgery, range of motion exercises and protected weight bearing activities are essential to rehabilitation and recover. This is increased as the patient improves. An OATS patient will need to use crutches for 8 to 12 weeks.
The OATS procedure has shown itself to be a very successful option for patients dealing with a cartilage injury of the knee. It can help individuals get back to a high level of activity once it’s healed.