Subchondroplasty for Treating Bone Marrow Lesions

Subchondroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure perform by orthopedic surgeon to treat injury of the bone marrow or a defect in the subchondral bone.

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a common form of arthritis that causes joint pain and stiffness. It is a progressive disease in which the joint cartilage gradually wears away and can cause a significant disability.

Bone marrow lesions or BMLs are strong predictors of osteoarthritic cartilage damage. Bone marrow lesions are visible on an MRI but not in a regular X-ray. BMLs are sites of chronic inflammation of subchondral bone. They lie below the bone surface within the marrow and are accompanied by swelling and fluid collection (edema). BMLs are associated with subchondral defects, insufficiency fractures and stress fractures.

Conservative treatments for BMLs include pain medications, knee braces, crutches, and physical therapy. At STARS, our experienced Physical Therapist will provide expert, individualized attention.  Services are designed to build strength and endurance, restore functional mobility, improve performance of daily activities, and manage pain.

Ideal candidate

Patients diagnosed with bone marrow lesions as the primary source of pain in the knee may benefit from the procedure. However, subchondroplasty is contraindicated in patients with BMI more than 40 or those with severe misalignment of the knee joint.

After the procedure

Some pain and discomfort in the operated area is usually experienced for 1-2 days after the procedure. Pain medications will be prescribed to manage it. Crutches will be recommended for 1-2 weeks after the surgery to reduce weight bearing on the operated leg. Physical therapy will also be recommended to regain strength and mobility in the knee.

Advantages of Subchondroplasty

Subchondroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure with the following advantages:

  • It is an outpatient procedure. The patient is usually discharged on the same day as the surgery.
  • It leads to faster recovery and quicker return to normal activities.
  • It does not hinder total knee replacement if required in the future.

Related Articles
—  Subchondroplasty Post-Op Knee Rehabilitation 
— Subchondroplasty: Filling the Void in Your Knee