Articular Cartilage Transplantation: Clinical Results in the Knee

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Abstract

Between December 1983 and August 1991, 55 consecutive patients (55 knees) who underwent articular cartilage transplantation to their damaged knees were enrolled in the study. Average followup was 75 months (range, 11-147 months). Eight-two percent were younger than 45 years of age. Patients were evaluated through an 18-point scale, with 6 points each allocated to pain, range of motion, and function. An excellent knee was pain free, had full range of motion, and permitted unlimited activity. A good knee allowed full time employment and moderate activity. Eleven of 15 (73%) allografts transplanted 10 or more years ago were still good or excellent at the time of last followup. Overall, 42 of 55 (76%) knees that received the transplants were rated good or excellent. Specifically, 36 and 43 (84%) patients with unipolar transplants regained normal use of their resurfaced knee. The results after bipolar resurfacing were less encouraging, with only six of 12 (50%) knees rated good or excellent. The described technique of osteochondral shell allograft resurfacing of the knee capitalizes on the different healing potentials of bone and cartilage by transplanting the viable articular cartilage organ in its entirely along with just enough of the underlying bone to allow for graft incorporation through creeping substitution. The results support the use of fresh osteochondral shell allograft transplantation for the treatment of large, full thickness articular cartilage defects to the medial or lateral femoral condyles and to the patella.

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