Purpose: In the present study, the clinical outcomes and second-look arthroscopic findings of intra-articular injection of stem cells with arthroscopic lavage for treatment of elderly patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) were evaluated.
Methods: Stem cell injections combined with arthroscopic lavage were administered to 30 elderly patients (≥65 years) with knee OA. Subcutaneous adipose tissue was harvested from both buttocks by liposuction. After stromal vascular fractions were isolated, a mean of 4.04 × 10(6) stem cells (9.7 % of 4.16 × 10(7) stromal vascular fraction cells) were prepared and injected in the selected knees of patients after arthroscopic lavage. Outcome measures included the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Scores, visual analog scale, and Lysholm score at preoperative and 3-, 12-, and 2-year follow-up visits. Sixteen patients underwent second-look arthroscopy.
Results: Almost all patients showed significant improvement in all clinical outcomes at the final follow-up examination. All clinical results significantly improved at 2-year follow-up compared to 12-month follow-up (P < 0.05). Among elderly patients aged >65 years, only five patients demonstrated worsening of Kellgren-Lawrence grade. On second-look arthroscopy, 87.5 % of elderly patients (14/16) improved or maintained cartilage status at least 2 years postoperatively. Moreover, none of the patients underwent total knee arthroplasty during this 2-year period.
Conclusion: Adipose-derived stem cell therapy for elderly patients with knee OA was effective in cartilage healing, reducing pain, and improving function. Therefore, adipose-derived stem cell treatment appears to be a good option for OA treatment in elderly patients.
Level of evidence: Therapeutic case series study, Level IV.