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Experienced Cartilage Regeneration Doctor - Pittsburgh, PA

Cartilage Restoration Surgery Specialist - Brackenridge, PA

Some of the most important parts of your body, from knees and ankles to your elbows and shoulders, are held together by one type of tissue: cartilage. Cartilage is amazing -- it somehow manages to be extremely strong and durable while remaining flexible enough to give you the range of motion you need to perform your daily tasks and play the sports you love. 

Unfortunately, the fact that we work the cartilage in our bodies so frequently and at such high impact means that it is vulnerable to deterioration, both from overuse and from natural wear and tear. Once the cartilage in your joints begins to wear away, moving in any capacity can become difficult and painful. Eventually, this won’t just have an impact on the way you play sports -- it can make getting through the simple chores of each day impossible, and even have severely negative consequences on your overall quality of life.

No one should have to be sidelined from life or from sports by cartilage degeneration. That’s why Dr. Michael Rytel is proud to offer his patients expert cartilage repair and cartilage transfer surgery near Pittsburgh. If you believe a cartilage restoration procedure could be the right option for you to make a complete recovery from your injury or condition, don’t wait for your pain to worsen. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Rytel today.


OATS Cartilage Repair Surgery - Pittsburgh, PA

During your first appointment with Dr. Rytel, you’ll first discuss with him whether or not cartilage restoration is the right call for your particular condition. If you do decide that opting for cartilage repair surgery as the next step will produce the best outcome for you at the end of this conversation, we’ll then discuss which type of surgery is right for you. Depending on your condition and the location of your cartilage degeneration, you have a few standard options, one of which is called “OATS.”

OATS is an acronym which stands for “Osteochondral Autograft Transfer System.” It’s similar to another common procedure known as mosaicplasty, during which Dr. Rytel will remove a certain amount of bone and cartilage from a healthier area of your body than the one affected. Using this healthy bone and tissue, Dr. Rytel will replace the cartilage that has degenerated in your affected joint, allowing your body to heal and gradually restoring your mobility. The difference between OATS and traditional mosaicplasty is that during an OATS procedure, Dr. Rytel will remove a larger amount of healthy cartilage, allowing for less back-and-forth during your surgery as he only needs to move one or two plugs.

OATS is most often performed to correct cartilage degeneration in the knees. If knee discomfort, pain or lack of mobility is having an impact on your quality of life, call Dr. Rytel to see if this procedure is the right option for you.

The Region’s Best ACI Surgeon in Pittsburgh, PA

For younger patients, especially athletes who play high school and college sports, an injury to the knee, ankle, hip or other joint can be extremely scary. If you aren’t able to make a full recovery, this could mean the end of not only your ability to play the sport you love, but potentially any opportunities that you received as a result of your hard work and talent. Luckily, Dr. Rytel also offers opportunities for these patients to receive treatment that can result in complete restoration of your range of motion, and eventually a return to sports.

One of the most commonly implemented treatments of this kind is known as autologous chondrocyte implantation, or ACI. During an ACI procedure, Dr. Rytel will implant a particular type of cartilage cell (hyaline cartilage) into the damaged or affected area of your joint. By introducing healthy cells, we are able to stimulate the natural growth and regeneration of cartilage in the area that is causing you pain, discomfort or lack of mobility.  

While most patients who receive ACI are doing so to reverse damage in the joints of the knees, ACI is applicable to any joint that contains hyaline cartilage, the type of cells that are implanted during the procedure. In the right circumstances, this can include the ankles, shoulders, elbows, hips, and even toes.


Meet Dr. Rytel!

Provider, Michael Rytel, MD

Michael Rytel, MD

Board Certified Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Specialist
['Orthopaedic Surgery', 'Sports Medicine']
['Brackenridge, PA', 'Shadyside, PA']

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of cartilage are there? 

As an orthopedic specialist, Dr. Rytel works with the following types of cartilage in cartilage repair medicine:

  • Elastic cartilage, the soft type found in your ears, epiglottis, and larynx.
  • Fibrocartilage, a more inflexible form of cartilage found primarily between vertebrae in the spine and in several joints.
  • Hyaline cartilage, which sits between the two previous types and is found in the nose, windpipe and many of your joints. 

Additionally, Dr. Rytel works with articular cartilage, which is simply any cartilage located in your joints covering the point at which bone surfaces touch. This cartilage absorbs shock and is responsible for the smoothness of your movement. 

How does cartilage restoration surgery work?

Your body makes cartilage on its own out of a number of chemicals: collagen, elastin,  and proteoglycan. However, even though it is naturally produced, your body takes quite some time to repair cartilage that is damaged or diseased. Cartilage restoration surgery uses healthy cartilage your body has already produced to replace the damaged cartilage more quickly, or to stimulate the generation of new, healthy cartilage that would normally take too long.

Is cartilage restoration good for sports injuries?

Yes! Sports medicine patients, especially those who are young athletes playing high school sports, can strongly benefit from cartilage restoration as an effective, long-term alternative to multiple painful surgeries. Dr. Rytel recommends cartilage repair as a solution that can truly get you back in the game.

What will my recovery from cartilage restoration look like?

After your surgery, it’s extremely important to undergo all of the physical therapy recommended to you by Dr. Rytel. Completing a full physical therapy treatment plan is essential to the new cartilage in your joint and the surrounding musculature being able to heal in a way that restores your full mobility, especially if you’re looking to return to athletic activity.