Rapid chondrolysis of the knee after partial lateral meniscectomy in professional athletes

Knee. 2014 Mar;21(2):504-8. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2014.01.001. Epub 2014 Jan 18.


Background: Postoperative knee joint chondrolysis is a rare but serious complication. The aim of our study is to report the clinical presentation, the early, mid and long-term outcomes of rapid chondrolysis after a partial lateral meniscectomy in elite athletes.

Methods: Clinical records of 10 consecutive cases of rapid chondrolysis after partial lateral meniscectomy in eight professional athletes were retrospectively reviewed. There were seven males and one female with a mean age of 25.2 years (range 20-32 years) at index procedure. An initial conservative approach to its treatment was attempted in all cases. Arthroscopic lavage was advocated in two cases. Patients were clinically reviewed at last follow-up with comparative X-rays, a subjective IKDC, a Lysholm and Tegner scale.

Results: All patients resumed their pre-injury level of activity at a mean 8 (±2.45) months after the index procedure. At a mean of 82 (±36) months of follow-up, the mean subjective IKDC, Lyshom and Tegner scale were respectively 82.64 (±8.61), 86.6 (±6.44), 9 (±1.41). All knees demonstrated joint space narrowing scored Kellgren and Lawrence II (n=1) III (n=4) or IV (n=5) on conventional radiographs.

Conclusion: By reviewing the common factors in each of these cases we believe that rapid chondrolysis occurs primarily due to the excessive loading of the articular cartilage in the lateral compartment of the knee. In this series, although the results in the medium term were good, the long-term outcome must be guarded due to the high rate of radiographic osteoarthritis of the lateral compartment seen in this population.

Study design: Retrospective case series, Level IV.

Keywords: Knee chondrolysis; Lateral meniscectomy; Osteoarthritis; Professional athletes.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Arthroscopy
  • Athletic Injuries / surgery*
  • Cartilage, Articular / injuries*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Lysholm Knee Score
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Menisci, Tibial / surgery*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Therapeutic Irrigation
  • Viscosupplements / therapeutic use
  • Young Adult


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Viscosupplements