With the OATS procedure, the plugs are larger, and the surgeon typically only needs to move one or two plugs of healthy cartilage and bone to the damaged area of the knee.
OATS is usually recommended for patients under the age of 50 with minimal cartilage damage due to trauma, and with available healthy cartilage for transfer.
The OATS procedure begins with an arthroscopic examination, which is performed in a hospital operating room under general anesthesia. The surgeon prepares the damaged area of cartilage and uses a coring tool to make a hole in the cartilage that is sized to fit the plug exactly. The plug of healthy cartilage and bone is then harvested from the non-weight bearing part of the knee and transferred to the cored hole in the damaged area of the knee. Over time, successful OATS surgery will allow bone and cartilage to grow into the damaged area of the knee, resolving the patient's knee pain.
Post-operative recovery includes several exercises to do, taking pain medication as directed, using a cryocuff cold therapy unit to reduce swelling, and being compliant with rehabilitation exercises for a good outcome. Risks and complications of the OATS surgery include post-operative bleeding, deep vein thrombosis, infection, stiffness, numbness to part of the skin near the incisions, injury to vessels and nerves, and chronic pain syndrome.