What is Osteoarticular Transfer System (OATS) Surgery?

By admin
May 7, 2014

The knee is the most common joint to sustain injury resulting in cartilage damage. Cartilage damage can result from repetitive sprains, over use, or trauma. Cartilage damage in the knee can create pain that will worsen over time. The best way to correct an osteoarticular lesion is to undergo OATS Surgery, which stands for, "Osteoarticular Transfer System."

Here are some facts about articular cartilage:

  • White film that covers edges of bones where they meet together to form a joint
  • Hyaline Cartilage is the main covering of knee joint
  • Hyaline cartilage does not contain calcium and cannot be seen on X-ray, candidates for this procedure will need an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in order to confirm diagnosis
  • Damage to cartilage in the knee can develop arthritis in the joint if it is left untreated
  • Cartilage cannot heal on its own, surgical intervention is neccessary
  • When cartilage is damaged, it rubs against bones and creates friction that causes pain while walking or participating in activities
  • Damaged cartilage may cause knee to feel as though it is "locked" or "frozen" in place

What is OATS?

  • Outpatient surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia
  • Generally performed through arthroscopy (when using an autograft, which is your own body's tissue)
  • Considered the gold standard in orthopedic surgery for successful cartilage repair
  • Performed as an open surgery for larger lesions requiring an allograft (cartilage taken from a cadaver)
  • Damaged cartilage is scraped out and replaced with healthy cartilage taken from a non-weight bearing area of the joint
  • Ideal for young adults who have sustained a single injury
  • Can be performed in addition to other knee surgeries such as ACL, and meniscal repair


  • Physical therapy is required to restore range of motion and strength in joint
  • Non-weight bearing for 6-12 weeks following surgery (crutches)
  • Patient is required to come in for follow-up visits and scans to make sure the autograft has fused properly


Osteoarticular Transfer System Surgery in Napa and Vacaville

To learn more about Osteoarticular Transfer System (OATS) surgery and its benefits, contact us today.  You can reach us directly at 707.258.2547 in Napa or 707.446.6206 in Vacaville.  We look forward to meeting you!



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