OATS or osteoarticular transfer system, is a surgical procedure used to treat cartilage defects in the knee, where the cartilage has worn away or is missing. Cartilage defect can be due to trauma, and is commonly found with other injuries, including ACL and MCL  tears.

Diagnostic procedures may include the following:


Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness in the knee


In an OATS procedure, holes left where cartilage is missing are “plugged” with cartilage from a non-weight baring area of the knee (autograft) or by using cadaver bone (allograft).

This treatment is only used for small areas of cartilage damage, usually limited to 10-20 mm in size. This type of damage is usually seen in younger patients (less than 50 years old) who experience a trauma to their joint. 

After Surgery/Recovery

Physical Therapy is a critical part of complete recovery. Our doctors recommend DMC's Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, with 30 convenient locations across southeastern Michigan. To find one near you, click here.


Expert Knee Physicians

Non-Operative Sports Medicine Specialists 
Britta Anderson, DO (Offices in Warren, Detroit, Plymouth, & Farmington Hills)
Tariq Awan, DO (Offices in Warren, Detroit, Farmington Hills & Dearborn)
Sadiq Haque, DO (Offices in Detroit, Novi, Warren, Farmington Hills & Dearborn)

Sports Medicine Orthopaedic Surgeons
Stephen Lemos, M.D. Ph.D. (Offices in Warren, Farmington Hills & Dearborn)
Todd Frush, M.D. (Offices in Plymouth)
Henry Goitz, M.D. (Office in Warren)
Gary Gilyard, M.D. (Office in Warren)
Robert Kohen, M.D. (Office Detroit, Warren & Farmington Hills)
Douglas Plagens, M.D. (Office in Warren)
Jeffery Michaelson, M.D. (Office in Warren)


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