Ceramic Hemi-unicondylar Arthroplasty in an Adolescent Patient With Idiopathic Tibial Chondrolysis

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Despite recent advances in cartilage regeneration and restoration procedures, isolated, large, full-thickness cartilage lesions in young patients continue to pose significant challeneges to patients and orthopedic surgeons. Treatment options for this difficult problem have traditionally included arthrodesis, osteotomy, osteochondral allograft, and prosthetic reconstruction. We present a case of an adolescent patient with isolated idiopathic lateral tibial chondrolysis treated with a custom ceramic hemi-unicondylar hemiarthroplasty.

Preoperatively, a 3-dimensional computed tomography scan of the patient's knee was obtained to begin manufacturing a conforming custom ceramic insert that would articulate between the tibial base plate and the patient's native lateral femoral cartilage. Through a lateral parapatellar approach, the tibial preparation was carried out using the Zimmer M/G unicompartmental knee system (Warsaw, Indiana), and the tibial base plate was cemented into position in the standard fashion. A custom, conforming, prefabricated ceramic insert (CeramTec, Memphis, Tennessee) was then inserted onto the tibial base plate.

At 5-year follow-up, this salvage procedure was successful in relieving pain and restoring function in this young patient. There were no signs of implant loosening or lysis. Magnetic resonance imaging of the knee at last follow-up revealed that the cartilage thickness of the patient's lateral femoral condyle remained unchanged.

Unicondylar hemiarthroplasty performed in patients with large unipolar lesions in the knee can provide durable and reliable pain relief. Ceramic is a viable material that can be considered for articulation with native cartilage.

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