Cartiva Implant Toe Surgery

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Cartiva implant toe surgery replaces damaged cartilage surface with a revolutionary implant.

What is Cartiva implant toe surgery?

Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant (SCI) is a revolutionary implant that is designed to replace the damaged cartilage surface. Cartiva SCI is made from polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), a material that has been used in a number of medical device applications for more than 20 years. Through a proprietary manufacturing process, Cartiva SCI is designed to mimic the properties of natural cartilage. Cartiva SCI has been approved for use outside the United States since 2002 and is now available in Europe, Canada, Turkey and Brazil. Over 3,000 implants have been used to date. A recent orthopedic research study demonstrated good long-term outcomes for patients.

Fusion toe surgery

When damage to the joint is severe, arthrodesis, or fusion, is the current standard of care. In this procedure, the damaged cartilage is removed and pins, screws or a plate are used to fix the joint in a permanent position. Gradually, the bones grow together.

The main advantage of this procedure is that it is a permanent correction with the elimination of arthritis pain. The major disadvantage is the restriction of movement of the big toe and the resulting limitations on certain daily activities and also sports such as running and skiing. You may also have difficulty wearing a shoe with a heel higher than one inch.

Metatarsophalangeal osteoarthritis (big toe arthritis)

The most common site of osteoarthritis in the foot is at the base of the big toe. This joint, called the metatarsophalangeal, or MTP, joint, is subjected to a great deal of stress, bending with each of the thousands of steps we take each day. Also known as Hallux Rigidus, osteoarthritis of the first MTP joint is a chronic and incurable condition that is reported to affect one in 45 North Americans over the age of 50.

Hallux rigidus

Because osteoarthritis is a progressive condition, motion becomes increasingly limited, making walking or even standing difficult and painful. With limited motion, the big toe will not propel the body forward and other joints of the body will need to compensate, putting more strain on the rest of the foot and lower extremity. Over time, the decrease in motion will lead to jamming of the joint. As the joint undergoes constant trauma in this way, the bones become stimulated and extra bone growth known as bone spurs occur over the top of the joint.

Hallux Rigidus usually develops in adults between the ages of 30 and 60 years. While the true cause of hallux rigidus is unknown, risk factors include family history, prior injury to the toe that damages the articular cartilage, and differences in foot anatomy that increase stress on the joint.

Reasons for Cartiva implant toe surgery

Hallux rigidus symptoms

  • Pain in the joint when you are active, especially as you push-off on the toes when you walk
  • Swelling around the joint
  • A bump, like a bunion or callus, that develops on the top of the foot
  • Stiffness in the great toe and an inability to bend it up or down

What to expect with Cartiva surgery

During a simple outpatient procedure lasting approximately 45 minutes, your surgeon exposes the MTP joint by making a small, 4-5cm incision. After removing any bone spurs, the damaged cartilage on the metatarsal head is removed and replaced with a press-fitted Cartiva SCI implant to provide a smooth, load-bearing joint surface. Unlike a fusion procedure, you may begin weight bearing immediately as tolerated. Likewise, some range of motion exercises should begin immediately to avoid stiffness. Many patients achieve relief from their arthritis symptoms immediately after the procedure, but normal soft tissue pain or discomfort may persist beyond four to ten weeks as the wounds heal after surgery.

Get Cartiva surgery with Centric Health

Many men and women from across Canada and around the world choose Centric Health Surgical Centres for a foot & ankle arthroscopy. Our surgeons have years of experience and excellence in performance and outcome with this procedure. We strive to provide exceptional pre- and post-operative care. Combined with our patient-centred philosophy, we aim to provide all our patients with a compassionate, caring, and rewarding experience.

Next steps: Book your Cartiva surgery consultation

If you are ready to discuss your Cartiva toe surgery needs with our surgeons, contact us to learn more and request a consultation today. To discover your health options your patient care coordinator will discuss:

  • Your medical history
  • Incision techniques
  • Potential risks and complications


We cannot facilitate or expedite CARTIVA services with an Orthopaedic Surgeon for patients who are covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).  We can however expedite access for private pay CARTIVA, with an American Board Certified Podiatric Surgeon.

Cartiva Implant Toe Surgery: Doctors



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