What is microfracture?

A surgical treatment called microfracture is used to treat some forms of knee injuries, especially those involving damage to the articular cartilage. Small holes are drilled into the bone underlying the injured cartilage as part of the surgery to promote the body's natural healing reaction. The treatment involves minimally invasive approaches to minimise pain and scarring.

Microfracture, an advanced surgical procedure designed twenty years ago, utilises your body’s own healing mechanisms to promote new tissue growth on the chondral surface. As a result, most patients are relieved of pain and can enjoy sports activities and other high-intensity sports before the injury.

How does Dr van Niekerk perform the procedure?

Local or general anaesthesia keeps you relaxed and pain-free throughout the treatment. An arthroscope, a tiny instrument with a camera attached that allows Dr van Niekerk to view the interior of the joint, is inserted through a small incision in the knee. The injured cartilage is removed as the underlying bone is polished and prepared for microfracture. Dr van Niekerk uses a small tool called an awl to create tiny holes in the bone beneath the injured cartilage. An awl is a surgical instrument used during operations to create tiny holes in bones or other hard tissues. The instrument is a long, thin, pointed object with a handle on one end for holding and a sharp edge on the other for penetrating bone. The holes are carefully spaced, about 3-4mm apart. By creating these holes, blood and bone marrow cells combine, forming a large clot that submerges the damaged area. After completing the microfracture, Dr van Niekerk removes the surgical tools and uses adhesive strips or sutures to close the wound.

What is recovery like?

In addition to receiving pain medication and post-operative care instructions, you will be observed in the recovery area. Microfracture is minimally invasive and frequently carried out as an outpatient procedure, allowing you to leave the hospital on the day of the operation. For a while, you may need to use crutches or a brace to support the knee and speed up healing.


How long does microfracture take?

Dr van Niekerk usually takes thirty minutes to an hour to complete the procedure. However, the duration depends on your diagnosis.

When can you return to work after the microfracture?

The precise duration will depend on the treatment type and each patient's recovery. Most patients can return to work a few days or weeks after the treatment.

How long does it take to heal from microfracture?

After the procedure, it may be advised that you use crutches or wear a brace for six to eight weeks.