Objective: To evaluate clinically and arthroscopically post-traumatic patellofemoral chondropathy.
Methods: Fifty-nine patients with post-traumatic patellofemoral chondropathy were included in a cross sectional study and 46 of them completed a 6 month longitudinal study. Evaluation of the disease, performed once in the cross sectional study and twice (at entry and after 6 months) in the longitudinal study, included clinical and arthroscopic variables evaluating disease activity and severity. Arthroscopy was performed under local anesthesia in an outpatient procedure using a small arthroscope. Chondropathy was evaluated by the overall assessment of the investigator using a visual analog scale, and by the Société Française d'Arthroscopie (SFA) scoring system (SFA score: 0-100). Synovitis was assessed by the "synovitis score," which represents a composite index taking into account intensity, extent and location of synovial abnormalities.
Results: In the cross sectional study, severity of chondropathy correlated with age, body mass index, disease duration, functional impairment (Lequesne's index and maximum number of steps descended), patellofemoral crepitus on active motion, limitation of flexion, and presence and amount of synovitis. Knee effusion correlated with the presence of synovitis, but no correlation was found between pain or functional impairment and presence or amount of synovitis. In the longitudinal study, no statistically significant change in chondropathy was observed after 6 months followup despite a statistically significant improvement in pain, function, and knee effusion after this period. However, a statistically significant correlation was found between the progression of patellofemoral chondropathy and the presence and amount of synovitis at baseline. Synovitis was present at baseline in 10 patients. Changes in SFA scores were 1.2 +/- 1.6 and -0.1 +/- 1.0 in the groups of patients with and without synovitis, respectively (p = 0.0062).
Conclusion: These data suggest that synovitis might have a deleterious effect on the evolution of post-traumatic patellofemoral chondropathy or might be a marker for active cartilage breakdown.