A novel nano-composite multi-layered biomaterial for treatment of osteochondral lesions: technique note and an early stability pilot clinical trial

Injury. 2010 Jul;41(7):693-701. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2009.11.014. Epub 2009 Dec 24.


Introduction: Osteochondral articular defects are a key concern in orthopaedic surgery. Current surgical techniques to repair osteochondral defects lead to poor subchondral bone regeneration and fibrocartilage formation, which is often associated with joint pain and stiffness. The objective of this pilot clinical study is to evaluate the performance and the intrinsic stability of a newly developed biomimetic osteochondral scaffold and to test the safety and the feasibility of the surgical procedure.

Methods: A gradient composite osteochondral scaffold based on type I collagen-hydroxyapatite was obtained by nucleating collagen fibrils with hydroxyapatite nanoparticles. Thirteen patients (15 defect sites) were treated with scaffold implantation from January 2007 to July 2007: four at the medial femoral condyle, two at the lateral femoral condyles, five at the patellas and four at the trochleas. The mean size of the defects was 2.8 cm(2) (range: 1.5-5.9 cm(2)). All patients were followed up prospectively. High-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to determine "the early postoperative adherence rate" at 4-5 weeks and 25-26 weeks after scaffold implantation. Moreover, the magnetic resonance observation of cartilage repair tissue (MOCART) score was performed on every MRI. Two second-looks were performed at 6 months; cartilage repair was assessed using the International Cartilage Repair Society (ICRS) visual scoring system and histological and immunohistochemical analysis of the two biopsies was carried out.

Results: A completely attached graft and repair tissue were found in 13 of 15 lesions (86.7%). A partial detachment was observed in two patients (13.3%). No detached grafts were found. Complete filling of the cartilage defect and congruency of the articular surface were seen in 10 lesions (66.7%) with MRI evaluation at 6 months. The complete integration of the grafted cartilage was detected in eight lesions (53.3%). Subchondral bone changes (oedema or sclerosis) were found in eight defects (53.3%). Statistical analysis showed a significant improvement in the International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) subjective and objective scores from preoperative to 6 months' follow-up (p<0.0005). Visual scoring of the repaired tissue at second-look revealed a normal repair score in one case and a near-normal repair score in the other case. Histological analysis showed the formation of subchondral bone without the presence of biomaterial. The cartilage repair tissue appeared to be engaged in an ongoing maturation process.

Conclusions: The technique is safe and MRI evaluation at short-term follow-up has demonstrated good stability of the scaffold without any other fixation device. The preliminary clinical results at short-term follow-up are encouraging. A clinical and MRI study with longer follow-up and randomised studies will be done to confirm the high potential of this novel osteochondral scaffold.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biocompatible Materials / therapeutic use
  • Bone Regeneration / physiology*
  • Cartilage, Articular* / injuries
  • Cartilage, Articular* / pathology
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Knee Injuries / pathology
  • Knee Injuries / therapy*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nanocomposites / therapeutic use*
  • Osteochondritis / pathology
  • Osteochondritis / therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tissue Engineering / methods
  • Tissue Scaffolds
  • Wound Healing* / physiology


  • Biocompatible Materials