Autologous chondrocyte transplantation. Biomechanics and long-term durability

Am J Sports Med. 2002 Jan-Feb;30(1):2-12. doi: 10.1177/03635465020300011601.


We evaluated the durability of autologous chondrocyte transplantation grafts in 61 patients treated for isolated cartilage defects on the femoral condyle or the patella and followed up for a mean of 7.4 years (range, 5 to 11). Durability was determined by comparing the clinical status at the long-term follow-up with that found 2 years after the transplantation. After 2 years, 50 of the 61 patients had good or excellent clinical results, and 51 of 61 had good or excellent results at 5 to 11 years later. Grafted areas from 11 of the patients were evaluated with an electromechanical indentation probe during a second-look arthroscopy procedure (mean follow-up, 54.3 months; range, 33 to 84); stiffness measurements were 90% or more of those of normal cartilage in eight patients. Eight of twelve 2-mm biopsy samples taken from these patients showed hyaline characteristics with safranin O staining and a homogeneous appearance in polarized light. Three fibrous and eight hyaline biopsy specimens stained positive to aggrecan and to cartilage oligomeric matrix protein. Hyaline-like specimens stained positive for type II collagen, and fibrous, for type I collagen. Autologous chondrocyte transplantation for the treatment of articular cartilage injuries has a durable outcome for as long as 11 years.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Arthroscopy
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Biopsy
  • Cartilage, Articular / injuries*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiopathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / surgery*
  • Chondrocytes / transplantation*
  • Female
  • Femur / injuries
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Graft Survival / physiology
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / pathology
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology
  • Knee Injuries / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans / surgery
  • Patella / injuries
  • Second-Look Surgery
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Transplantation, Autologous / methods
  • Treatment Outcome