Cartilage Center

Cartilage Center


Is your child having unexplained knee pain? If so, it could be a sign of a cartilage problem. Children’s Health Andrews Institute is on the frontlines of treating cartilage issues in children and adolescents.

When cartilage problems are caught early and treated appropriately, young athletes can often jump right back into high-level activities. With advanced treatments, they may even avoid a joint replacement down the road.

Why Choose the Cartilage Center at Children’s Health Andrews Institute?

Persistent knee pain is the most definitive sign of a cartilage problem, which is commonly diagnosed in children and adolescents ages 10 to 15. The Cartilage Center at Children’s Health Andrews Institute offers a range of treatments. Our program features:

  • Expert pediatric specialists: Our facility has more experience treating cartilage problems than most centers in the country. Our pediatric orthopedic and sports medicine physicians are proficient in diagnosing and treating these conditions with the most advanced treatments techniques.
  • Evidence-based treatment protocols: As part of a multi-center research group called the ROCK Group, we collect data on patients with osteochondritis dissecans, a rare cartilage disorder. This collective data gives our doctors insight into which treatments work best and when to recommend certain options for patients.
  • Advanced imaging: Our cutting-edge MRI offers a more powerful magnet than most MRI machines, which delivers more defined images. The advanced technology allows our doctors to diagnose cartilage problems better and faster. Learn more about our diagnostic imaging.

Knee and Joint Pain: Diagnosing a Cartilage Problem

One of the difficult-to-diagnose causes of unexplained knee, elbow or ankle pain is osteochondritis dissecans, a disease that causes the cartilage in the joint to break down. It often affects children and adolescents.

We can effectively diagnose this condition as well as other cartilage problems with on-site advanced imaging, including:

  • X-rays, which can make the diagnosis
  • MRI, which can help doctors determine a treatment plan

If not diagnosed and treated early, children with cartilage problems are more prone to having:

  • A dislocated kneecap
  • Knee, ankle or elbow injuries
  • Fractures
  • Degenerative arthritis

Knee and Joint Pain: Nonsurgical Cartilage Treatments

Our facility treats the full spectrum of cartilage problems. Because metal wears down over time, joint replacement is not a good option for children and adolescents. We treat most cartilage conditions nonsurgically, using braces or casts, especially in younger children.

Surgery for Knee and Joint Pain

For more complex cases, your doctor may recommend surgery. We have expertise in some of the latest techniques to effectively treat cartilage problems. With these advanced procedures, our specialists are seeing excellent results. Patients may even be able to delay or avoid future knee replacements. Surgical options include:

  • Arthroscopic surgery: This minimally invasive approach uses small incisions and a specialized tube called an arthroscope. The arthroscope allows surgeons to view and sometimes repair joint damage.
  • Osteotomy: This surgery changes the alignment of a bone to decrease the load on an injured joint.
  • Cartilage transplantation: Doctors replace missing cartilage with living cartilage. We can perform this procedure in two different ways, both of which our physicians know well:
    • Osteochondral allograft: We use living cartilage from a donor and transplant that into a patient.
    • Autologous chondrocyte implantation: We harvest a patient's own cartilage cells in a lab and then reinsert them back into the patient.

Contact Us

For more information or to make an appointment, please call 469-303-3000.