Focal cartilage defects in the knee impair quality of life as much as severe osteoarthritis: a comparison of knee injury and osteoarthritis outcome score in 4 patient categories scheduled for knee surgery

Am J Sports Med. 2010 Feb;38(2):231-7. doi: 10.1177/0363546509352157. Epub 2009 Dec 30.


Background: Patients with focal cartilage defects in the knee may suffer from both pain and functional impairment. Treatment options are often insufficient. It is not known, however, to what extent their complaints affect quality of life, compared with other knee disorders. Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) is a validated global knee score suitable for comparison of patients with knee complaints attributable to different causes. Hypothesis Complaints because of localized cartilage defects in the knee reduce quality of life measured by KOOS to a different extent than those due to anterior cruciate ligament deficiency and osteoarthritis, when comparing patients within the working population scheduled for surgery.

Study design: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods Previously registered KOOS baseline data on patients enrolled in different knee treatment studies were included in the present study; the patients were 18 to 67 years of age (working population) at data registration. The different patient categories were (1) patients with knee osteoarthritis enrolled for knee arthroplasty, (2) patients with knee osteoarthritis enrolled for osteotomies around the knee, (3) patients with focal cartilage lesions enrolled for cartilage repair, and (4) patients with anterior cruciate ligament-deficient knees enrolled for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. The KOOS subscale quality of life was the main parameter for comparison of complaints.

Results: At preoperative baseline, patients with focal cartilage defects in the knee scored 27.5 on the KOOS subscale quality of life, not significantly different from the 28.8 and 27.2 in the patients with osteoarthritis enrolled for knee osteotomies and arthroplasties, respectively. For all the subscales of KOOS, the cartilage patients scored significantly lower than the patients with anterior cruciate ligament deficiency.

Conclusion: Patients with focal cartilage lesions have major problems with pain and functional impairment. Their complaints are worse than those of patients with anterior cruciate ligament-deficient knees, and quality of life is affected to the same extent as in patients scheduled for knee replacement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cartilage / physiopathology*
  • Cartilage / surgery*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology
  • Knee Injuries / psychology*
  • Knee Injuries / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / psychology*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Young Adult