For Sydney Boike, a star high school basketball player, a devastating knee injury threatened her academic and athletic goals. Averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds per game, Boike hoped to play basketball in college while she worked towards medical school.
Her orthopedic surgeon implanted a cartilage allograft in her injured knee, hoping the OATS procedure would allow Boike to return to her favorite sport.
OATS is an abbreviation for osteochondral autograft/allograft transfer system. A chondral defect is like a “pothole” in your femur. When the chondral defect is small, an autograft transfer is usually done. Autograft refers to taking tissue from your own body to “fill in” the defect.
When the defect is large, an allograft is used. This involves taking tissue from a cadaver to replace the bone and cartilage loss. It is like putting a “plug in the pothole”. Not all patients are candidates for this surgery. Contraindications include advanced osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, total menisectomy, and ligament tears. Return to activities after OATS is generally 6-9 months.