Arthroscopic Second-Generation Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation Compared With Microfracture for Chondral Lesions of the Knee: Prospective Nonrandomized Study at 5 Years

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Abstract

Background:

Various approaches have been proposed to treat articular cartilage lesions, which are plagued by inherent limited healing potential.

Purpose:

To compare the clinical outcome of patients treated with second-generation autologous chondrocyte implantation implants with those treated with the microfracture repair technique at 5-year follow-up.

Study Design:

Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.

Methods:

Eighty active patients (mean age, 29.8 years) and grade III to IV cartilage lesions of the femoral condyles or trochlea were treated with arthroscopic second-generation autologous chondrocyte implantation Hyalograft C or microfracture (40 patients per group). Patients achieved a minimum 5-year follow-up and were prospectively evaluated.

Results:

Both groups showed statistically significant improvement of all clinical scores from preoperative interval to 5-year follow-up. There was a significant improvement for the International Knee Documentation Committee subjective score from preoperative to 5-year follow-up (Wilcoxon test, P < .001). In the microfracture group, the International Knee Documentation Committee objective score increased from 2.5% normal and nearly normal knees before the operation to 75% normal and nearly normal knees at 5-year follow-up, and the subjective score increased from 41.1 ± 12.3 preoperatively to 70.2 ± 14.7 at 5-year follow-up. In the group treated with Hyalograft C, the International Knee Documentation Committee objective score increased from 15% normal and nearly normal knees before the operation to 90% normal and nearly normal knees at 5-year follow-up, and its subjective score increased from 40.5 ± 15.2 preoperatively to 80.2 ± 19.1 at 5-year follow-up (Wilcoxon test, P < .001). When comparing the groups, better improvement of the International Knee Documentation Committee objective (P < .001) and subjective (P = .003) scores was observed in the Hyalograft C group at 5-year follow-up. The return to sports at 2 years was similar in both groups and remained stable after 5 years in the Hyalograft C group; it worsened in the microfracture group.

Conclusion:

Both methods have shown satisfactory clinical outcome at medium-term follow-up. Better clinical results and sport activity resumption were noted in the group treated with second-generation autologous chondrocyte transplantation.

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