Treatment of painful articular cartilage defects of the patella by carbon-fibre implants

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Between 1989 and 1993 we implanted a matrix support prosthesis made of carbon fibre for the treatment of chronic painful articular defects of the patella in 27 patients.The mean period of follow-up was 33 months (11 to 54) with clinical and arthroscopic evaluation of the implant.

Overall, there were four excellent, three good, seven fair and 13 poor results.Nine patients subsequently had a patellectomy for persistent pain at a mean of 27 months after surgery (14 to 47). The mean visual analogue pain scores in those who retained their patella were 7.6 before operation and 5.5 at the time of the latest follow-up. Patient satisfaction for the entire group was 41%.

There appeared to be good incorporation of the prosthesis and a satisfactory ingrowth of fibrocartilage, but the poor results in 48% and low patient satisfaction discourage us from recommending the procedure for lesions of the articular cartilage of the patella.The consistent seeding of the joint with carbon-fibre debris and a histiocytic giant-cell reaction in the synovium are also a cause for concern.

J Bone Joint Surg [Br] 1998;80-B:965-70.

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