Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation to Isolated Patella Cartilage Defects: Two- to 15-Year Follow-up

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Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) is a durable treatment for patients with chondral defects. This study presents the comprehensive evaluation of patients with patella defects treated with ACI at medium- to long-term follow-up.


Thirty consecutive patients with isolated chondral lesions of the patella were enrolled prospectively. Primary outcome measures were validated patient reported outcome measures and objective magnetic resonance imaging.


Nineteen of 30 patients underwent tibial tubercle osteotomy (TTO) to correct lateral maltracking in combination with soft tissue balancing. The defect sizes were large, averaging 4.7 ± 2.1 cm2 (range 2.2-30.0 cm2). Pidoriano/Fulkerson classification revealed that 3 defects were type II (lateral), 9 were type III (medial), and 18 were type IV (central/panpatella). Age at the time of surgery was 32 ± 10 years. At follow-up of 2 to 14 years, knee function was rated good to excellent in 25 (83%) patients, fair in 4 (13%) patients, and poor in 1 (3%) patient. Three patients failed treatment after a mean of 75 months (6.25 years). All 3 failures were Workers Compensation (WC) cases. They were older than the non-WC patients, 42 ± 6 years compared with the non-WC 28 ± 9 years (P = 0.0019). Significant increases in all clinical and health utility outcome scores were seen. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated that the fill grade, surface and integrity of the repair tissue correlated with clinical scores.


ACI to isolated patella defects results in significant functional improvement at a minimum of 24 months, with the results remaining durable at latest follow-up of 15 years.

Level of evidence

Level 4.

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