Background: Large talar cartilage defects can be treated with either autologous chondrocyte implantation or matrix autologous chondrocyte implantation. Both techniques depend on successful harvesting of the chondrocytes. In the past, they have come from the ipsilateral knee, which has been associated with donor site morbidity. We hypothesized that damaged cartilage from the talus can be used as a reliable source for chondrocyte cell harvesting in preparation for possible matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation (MACI).
Methods: Chondrocytes were harvested from the injured talar cartilage during ankle arthroscopy and sent to a cell laboratory, measured for initial biopsy weight, cultured for 4 to 6 weeks, and then analyzed for viability. A total of 151 patients were analyzed.
Results: The average biopsy initial weight was 187.1 mg. The average number of cells was 3.13 × 10(5). The viability of the chondrocytes provided by the manufacturer averaged 92.3% (range, 33%-100%).
Conclusions: Chondrocytes harvested from the damaged talar articular cartilage were functional and proliferated with an average viability of 92%.
Clinical relevance: This technique may provide a useful source of chondrocytes if needed for a future cell-based regenerative procedure such as MACI while eliminating the need to harvest chondrocytes from the knee or other intact areas of cartilage on the talus.
Level of evidence: Level IV, case series.
Keywords: matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation (MACI); osteochondral defect; talar chondrocytes; talus.