Clinical Outcomes and Failure Rates of Osteochondral Allograft Transplantation in the Knee: A Systematic Review

Am J Sports Med. 2018 Dec;46(14):3541-3549. doi: 10.1177/0363546517732531. Epub 2017 Oct 17.


Background: Cartilage lesions are a significant cause of morbidity and impaired knee function; however, cartilage repair procedures have failed to reproduce native cartilage to date. Thus, osteochondral allograft (OCA) transplantation represents a 1-step procedure to repair large chondral defects without the donor site morbidity of osteochondral autograft transplantation.

Purpose: To perform a systematic review of clinical outcomes and failure rates after OCA transplantation in the knee at a minimum mean 2 years' follow-up.

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

Methods: A systematic review of the literature regarding the existing evidence for clinical outcomes and failure rates of OCA transplantation in the knee joint was performed using the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PubMed, and MEDLINE from studies published between 1980 and 2017. Inclusion criteria were as follows: clinical outcomes and failure rates of OCAs for the treatment of chondral defects in the knee joint, English language, mean follow-up of 2 years and minimum follow-up of 18 months, minimum study size of 20 patients, and human studies. The methodological quality of each study was assessed using a modified version of the Coleman methodology score.

Results: The systematic search identified 19 studies with a total of 1036 patients. The mean 5-year survival rate across the studies included in this review was 86.7% (range, 64.1%-100.0%), while the mean 10-year survival rate was 78.7% (range, 39.0%-93.0%). The mean survival rate was 72.8% at 15 years (range, 55.8%-84.0%) and 67.5% at 20 years (range, 66.0%-69.0%). The weighted mean patient age was 31.5 years (range, 10-82 years), and the weighted mean follow-up was 8.7 years (range, 2-32 years). The following outcome measures showed significant improvement from preoperatively to postoperatively: d'Aubigné-Postel, International Knee Documentation Committee, Knee Society function, and Lysholm scores. The weighted mean reoperation rate was 30.2% (range, 0%-63%). The weighted mean failure rate was 18.2% (range, 0%-31%). Of note, revision cases, patellar lesions, and bipolar lesions demonstrated worse survival rates.

Conclusion: Improved patient-reported outcomes can be expected after OCA transplantation, with a survival rate of 78.7% at 10 years. Revision cases, patellar lesions, and bipolar lesions were associated with worse survival rates; therefore, utilization of the most appropriate index cartilage restoration procedure and proper patient selection are key to improving results.

Keywords: cartilage; knee; osteochondral allograft transplantation; repair.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Allografts / surgery
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / methods*
  • Bone Transplantation / methods*
  • Cartilage / transplantation*
  • Cartilage Diseases / surgery
  • Cartilage, Articular / injuries
  • Cartilage, Articular / surgery
  • Child
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intra-Articular Fractures / pathology
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patella / surgery
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Reoperation / statistics & numerical data
  • Second-Look Surgery / statistics & numerical data
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Young Adult