Osteochondral allograft (OCA) transplantation is a fairly new treatment approach for severe cartilage damage to the knee. Some surgeons are also using it in the shoulder.
A plug of bone topped by the joint cartilage is removed from a donor within 24 hours of his or her death. The graft can be saved and used for up to 28 days.
Postoperative rehab is important. Continuous active motion is advised. The patient is given a series of exercises that must be done every waking hour. Athletes are slowly prepared to engage in competitive sports. High-impact activities aren't allowed for at least a year.
It takes this long before the graft is fully accepted and grafted as part of the body tissue. Until then the player is benched. Training and sports play can resume when X-rays confirm a successful graft acceptance. Each surgeon will have his or her own protocol, which may vary from what is presented here. Be sure to ask your surgeon for an outline of what to expect in this area.