Autologous chondrocyte implantation for the treatment of retropatellar cartilage defects: clinical results referred to defect localisation

Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2008 Nov;128(11):1223-31. doi: 10.1007/s00402-007-0413-9. Epub 2007 Aug 21.


Introduction: Although autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) has become well established for the treatment of full-thickness cartilage defects of the knee joint, nevertheless clinical results of retropatellar lesions are still inferior compared to those of defects located on femoral condyles. We report the clinical results obtained in 70 patients treated with ACI for full-thickness defects of the patella, with special reference to defect location and size, age, body mass index and sports activity.

Methods: At a follow-up of 38.4 months (range 14-64, follow-up rate 83.3%), patients' subjective functional knee scores (IKDC, Lysholm) were analysed, as were the results of objective examination (according to ICRS).

Results: Mean patient age at the time of surgery was 34.3 years (+/-10.1). The mean Lysholm score at the time of follow-up was 73.0 (+/-22.4) and the subjective IKDC score was 61.6 (+/-21.5); normal and nearly normal clinical results according to the objective criteria of the International Cartilage Research Society (ICRS) were achieved in 67.1% of the patients, while abnormal results were achieved in 20.0% of the patients and severely abnormal results, in 12.9%. While different surgical techniques did not seem to have any significant influence on the treatment results, both defect size and defect location within the patella were found to be significantly associated with clinical outcome. The corollaries to this are that larger cartilage lesions of the patella are associated with an inferior outcome (p = 0.007) and that cartilage defects located on the lateral patellar facet are correlated with a better clinical outcome than those located on the medial facet or those involving both facets (p = 0.017).

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that within a group of patients treated with ACI for retropatellar cartilage lesion there are significant differences in clinical outcome, which are important and should be taken into account of when a decision has to be made on whether or not ACI is indicated.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cartilage Diseases / therapy*
  • Chondrocytes / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / therapy*
  • Patella*
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Young Adult