Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) is a surgical procedure involving the injection of a person's own cultured joint cartilage cells back into a prepared defect in the cartilage.


cells being cultured in a petri dish


In one operation (eg arthroscopy) a bit of healthy cartilage is removed. The matrix is broken down in the laboratory and the chondrocytes (cartilage cells) are multiplied.


The defect is cleaned up and then the chondrocytes are then injected behind a membrane that is sewn onto the defect


The two-stage procedure of ACI

This is known as a two-stage procedure, because the surgeon needs one procedure to harvest some healthy cartilage from a less important area and send the sample to a laboratory for culture (where they are multiplied and make many cells), and then there is a second procedure to implant the expanded cells into the damaged area to grow into healthy cartilage.

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Autologous chondrocyte transplantation

Dr Sheila Strover (Editor)
BSc (Hons), MB BCh, MBA

See biography...


Relevant content -

Dr Karen Hambly2008 - Course - Articular cartilage repair - course - by Dr Karen Hambly (Physiotherapist)


eBook about ACi ten years on

eBook - ACi ten years on - by Prof Paul Y F Lee

Discussing the progression of the ACi procedure (for defects of joint cartilage) over the last decade.

Click for details and download