MR imaging of autologous chondrocyte implantation of the knee

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Abstract

Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) is a surgical technique that is increasingly being used in the treatment of full-thickness defects of articular cartilage in the knee. It involves the arthroscopic harvesting and in vitro culture of chondrocytes that are subsequently implanted into a previously identified chondral defect. The aim is to produce a repair tissue that closely resembles hyaline articular cartilage that gradually becomes incorporated, restoring joint congruity. Over the long term, it is hoped that this will prevent the progression of full-thickness articular cartilage defects to osteoarthritis. This article reviews the indications and operative procedure performed in ACI. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequences that provide optimal visualization of articular cartilage in the post-operative period are discussed. Normal appearances of ACI on MRI are presented along with common complications that are encountered with this technique.

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