Standardized cartilage biopsies from the intercondylar notch for autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI)

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2010 Aug;18(8):1122-7. doi: 10.1007/s00167-009-1033-4. Epub 2010 Mar 27.


Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) is an established therapy for the treatment of cartilage defects across the knee joint. Even though different techniques for initial biopsy have been described, the exact location, depth, and volume of the biopsy are chosen individually by the treating surgeon. This study evaluated 252 consecutive cartilage biopsies taken from the intercondylar notch with a standardized hollow cylinder system for the isolation and in vitro cultivation of human chondrocytes assigned to ACI. All biopsies were assessed for weight of total cartilage obtained, cartilage biopsy weight per cylinder, biopsy cylinder quality, and initial cell count after digestive cellular isolation as well as cell vitality. Parameters were correlated with individual patient parameters. Mean patient age was 35.1 years (median 35.9; range 14.7-56.4). Adequate amounts of cartilage assigned to chondrocyte in vitro cultivation could be harvested in all cases. The mean overall biopsy weight averaged 75.5 mg (SD +/- 44.9) and could be identified as main factor for initial cell number (mean 1.05E+05; SD +/- 7.44E+04). No correlation was found between the initial cell count and patient age (correlation coefficient r = 0.005) or grade of joint degeneration (r = 0.040). Concerning cell viability, a total of 4.4% (SD + 3.0) of the chondrocytes harvested were apoptotic. Cartilage biopsies from the intercondylar notch using a standardized hollow cylinder system provides a reliable, safe, and successful method to obtain articular cartilage for further in vitro cultivation of articular chondrocytes to achieve autologous chondrocyte transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arthroscopy
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chondrocytes / transplantation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee / pathology*
  • Knee / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Transplantation, Autologous