The Return to Campus website has updates about WVU’s fall semester. Visit and for health resources related to the global pandemic.

WVU orthopaedic surgeons offer cartilage repair procedure

WVU orthopaedic surgeons offer cartilage repair procedure

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Orthopaedic surgeons at WVU Medicine are now offering a procedure for the treatment of full thickness cartilage defects of the knee. 

Hands lifting matrixMatrix-impregnated autologous chondrocyte implantation, known as MACI, provides surgeons with a technically improved way to rebuild damaged and missing cartilage. WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital is the only hospital in the state to offer this procedure. 

“With this procedure, we are able to repair defects to the cartilage of the knee before they progress and develop into osteoarthritis, which is more difficult to treat,” Barry McDonough, M.D., WVU Medicine orthopaedic surgeon, said.

In the two-stage procedure, surgeons perform a biopsy of healthy cartilage tissue from a non-weight bearing area of the knee to be sent to the Vericel lab, where chondrocytes, the building blocks of cartilage, are extracted and grown on a collagen matrix. 

The prepared matrix is then sent to the surgeon, who implants it into the knee to completely fill the defect. 

“In the past, procedures to repair damaged cartilage were lengthy and technically difficult,” Dr. McDonough said. “Surgeons were required to stitch a matrix in place and inject the cartilage-forming chondrocytes under it, which was time consuming. This procedure, however, uses improved tools that simplify the process and eliminate the need for stitches to hold the implant in place.”

This procedure is appropriate for patients ages 18 to 55 who have cartilage defects due to trauma and is not available as a treatment for arthritic knee pain. 

Patients can expect to return to full weight bearing six-to-eight weeks after the procedure and may require a recovery period of nine months or longer before returning to high impact athletic activity.