Concentrated Bone Marrow Aspirate for the Treatment of Chondral Injuries and Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Systematic Review of Outcomes

Orthop J Sports Med. 2016 Jan 13;4(1):2325967115625481. doi: 10.1177/2325967115625481. eCollection 2016 Jan.


Background: Bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) has emerged as a novel treatment for pathology of the knee. Despite containing a limited number of stem cells, BMAC serves as a source of growth factors that are thought to play an important role as a result of their anabolic and anti-inflammatory effects. To our knowledge, there is no systematic review regarding the outcomes of bone marrow aspirate concentrate used for the treatment of chondral defects and osteoarthritis of the knee.

Purpose: To perform a systematic review on the outcomes of bone marrow aspirate concentrate for the treatment of chondral defects and osteoarthritis of the knee.

Study design: Systematic review; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature was performed using the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PubMed, and MEDLINE from 1980 to present. Inclusion criteria were as follows: use of BMAC for treatment of chondral defects and osteoarthritis of the knee, English language, and human studies. We excluded cadaveric studies, animal studies, basic science articles, editorial articles, surveys, and studies that did not include the knee. After applying inclusion and exclusion criteria, studies were evaluated for efficacy and safety of BMAC for treatment of articular cartilage knee pathologies.

Results: Eleven studies were considered. Of these, 5 were prospective studies, 1 was a retrospective study, 2 were case series, and 3 were case reports. Three comparative studies (2 with level 2 evidence, 1 with level 3 evidence) were found in our search; none of them were randomized. Three studies investigated the clinical efficacy of BMAC in the treatment of osteoarthritis, and 8 studies evaluated the efficacy of BMAC on focal cartilage injuries. All 3 studies regarding osteoarthritis and all 8 studies regarding focal chondral defects reported good to excellent overall outcomes with the use of BMAC.

Conclusion: Although a growing interest for biological alternatives of treating knee pathology has been observed in the past few years, there still remains a paucity of high-quality studies. The studies included in this systematic review reported varying degrees of beneficial results with the use of BMAC with and without an additional procedure for the treatment of chondral defects and early stages of osteoarthritis. Most articles present the use of BMAC as a safe procedure and report good results.

Keywords: BMAC; bone marrow aspirate concentrate; cartilage; knee; regenerative therapy; systematic review.