Beth Sullivan | June 3rd, 2019
On Saturday it was announced that Ja Morant will undergo a right knee arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies from his knee. This procedure is scheduled for Monday morning. I’m sure this news had a lot of NBA fans worried about the prospect who is expected to be picked close to the top of the upcoming NBA draft.
What is a Loose Body?
Most fans have heard of Meniscus injuries and ACL/PCL injuries but what exactly is a loose body? I’m glad you asked that.
Loose bodies in the knee joint are small fragments of cartilage or bone that move freely around the knee in joint fluid. The loose bodies impair the joint moment by getting caught in the tight recesses of the joint and result in a catching sensation when joint is moved through its range of motion. The loose bodies can vary in size from a few millimeters (the size of a small pill) to a few centimeters (the size of a quarter). The fragments can damage the articular cartilage, resulting in osteoarthritis.
How Are They Diagnosed?
Loose bodies are normally diagnosed with a regular x-ray, but they can also be visualized as an abnormality on an MRI or CT Scan. These imaging tests are normally done because the patient complains of their knee catching when they move it or because they have a sensation of looseness in the knee caused by the loose body floating around the knee.
In athletes, the most common cause is an injury to the cartilage or ligaments during sports participation which can lead to the formation of a loose body. If the loose body is not corrected, severe damage to the joint cartilage can result which is an even more serious injury.
The gold standard for treating loose bodies is a knee arthroscopy. a few small incisions are made into the knee after thorough anesthesia has been achieved, a small camera and a portal or two through which tools can be inserted is inserted. A device that is like a pair of tongs with teeth is inserted through the portal and used to grasp the loose body and remove it. The camera is also used to visually examine the cartilage for any significant damage. If any is found a decision on whether to treat the damage during the current surgical procedure or plan further surgery in the future.
Cool Video of Procedure
If you want to see the actual procedure, check out this video. It isn’t really gross, but it does show the actual removal of a knee foreign body.
If full thickness cartilage damage is found and treatment is done immediately or in the future, the procedure that will be done in is usually a microfracture repair procedure. Recovery from the basic loose body removal and the arthroscopic procedure is four to six weeks. If full thickness cartilage damage is also repaired with a microfracture procedure, the recovery can take a minimum of three months to as much as nine to twelve months depending on the extent of the damage.
If you have any questions regarding this procedure feel free to ask.
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