MRI and clinical evaluation of collagen-covered autologous chondrocyte implantation (CACI) at two years

Knee. 2007 Mar;14(2):117-27. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2006.11.009. Epub 2007 Jan 25.


We present our experience with the collagen-covered autologous chondrocyte implantation (CACI) technique. Thirty two implantations were performed in 31 patients. Clinical outcome was measured using the KOOS score and the 6-minute walk test, as well as an MRI scoring protocol (75% of patients had a complete data set for MRI follow-up) to describe the repair tissue generated by CACI. We have also correlated our MRI results with our clinical outcome. To the authors knowledge there are no comparative studies of MRI and clinical outcome following CACI in the current literature. Patients demonstrated an increased walk distance that improved significantly from 3 months to 24 months postoperatively (p<0.05). Analysis of the KOOS results demonstrated a significant (p<0.05) improvement in four of the five subscales from 3 months to 24 months after CACI, with the most substantial gains made in the first 12 months. Patients demonstrated an increased MRI outcome score over time that improved significantly from 3 months to 24 months postoperatively (p<0.05). We observed an 8% incidence of hypertrophic growth following CACI. We report one partial graft failure, defined by clinical, MRI and histological evaluation, at the one year time point. In contrast to the current literature we report no incidence of manipulation under anesthesia (MUA) following CACI. This research demonstrates that autologous chondrocytes implanted under a type I/III collagen patch regenerates a functional infill material, and as a result of this procedure, patients experienced improved knee function and MRI scores. Whilst our results indicated a statistically significant relationship between the MRI and functional outcome following CACI, MRI cannot be used as surrogate measure of functional outcome following CACI, since the degree of association was only low to moderate. That is, functional outcome following CACI cannot be predicted by the morphological MRI assessment of the repair tissue at the post-surgery time points to 24 months.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / surgery
  • Chondrocytes / transplantation*
  • Collagen Type I / therapeutic use*
  • Collagen Type III / therapeutic use*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Knee Joint / surgery*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Collagen Type I
  • Collagen Type III