This is the term given to surgery of the articular surface or articular cartilage. It is usually undertaken during arthroscopy as a day case procedure in cases where the surface has been damaged or is worn.A simple smoothing chondroplasty is where using small arthroscopic hand instruments the loose fragments of articular cartilage are removed. Subsequently the area and edges may be smoothed over removing the loose and useless fragments of the surface using a mechanized shaver. This is a motorized rotatory cutting device 5mm in diameter which is inserted into the knee alongside the arthroscope. It is used to carefully remove and useless fronds of articular surface which may be the cause of mechanical symptoms.
An abrasion chondroplasty is where the articular surface has been damaged to such an extent that the underlying bone is exposed. This may be treated by a superficial abrasion of the bone surface by a rotatory 4.5mm burr. This produces a bleeding surface, which over the next 6 weeks often forms a surface layer of scar tissue, which is a substitute for the original articular cartilage. This technique is useful in small discrete areas of damage but has generally not been found to be helpful in larger defects. A six week period using crutches is considered mandatory for the recovery and healing of the joint surface.The abrasion chondroplasty has largely been replaced by the micro-fracture technique. This pierces the exposed bone with a drill. This produces bleeding of the underlying bone but preserves the structure of the bone surface. Once again a period of six weeks on crutches is necessary to allow proper healing of the defect after surgery.