Chondromalacia means 'softening of the gristle or joint cartilage' and usually refers to the kneecap (patella). The softening can be felt with a blunt probe during surgery.
Normal joint cartilage of patella (seen above the femoral groove) (Grade 0).
Chondromalacia - softening of the patellar joint cartilage, which can be dimpled with a rounded probe (Grade I).
Chondromalacia is a description, not a disorder
Chondromalacia is not a disease but simply a descriptive term. When a surgeon identifies softened joint cartilage during arthroscopy, he will generally use a grading system for his notes.