Purpose: To determine whether intra-articular injections of peripheral blood stem cells improved the regeneration of articular cartilage in patients with osteochondral knee injuries.
Methods: This prospective study included 20 patients with grade 3b knee osteochondral lesions who underwent knee arthroscopies. All were white, and all had performed physical activity at least five times a week. International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) and visual analog scale scores were recorded before surgery, six months and one year after surgery, and then yearly until five years after surgery. Magnetic resonance imaging scans were obtained six months preoperatively and then yearly and were evaluated by musculoskeletal radiologists blinded to the patient data. Tissue repair was quantified using the International Cartilage Repair Society morphologic score system. Unpaired t-tests were used for comparisons between the time points.
Results: The mean preoperative IKDC score was 50.5 (42-61). At the six-month follow-up, the mean values were 60.79 (P = 0.32) and 90.97. At the six-month follow-up, the mean values were 70.8 (P = 0.043). At the end of the five-year follow-up, the IKDC was 82.2 (P = 0.024). At five-year follow-up, the visual analog scale score was 1.1 (P = 0.0018). The main morphologic score system score was 3.2 preoperatively and 9.7 ± 1.6 at five-year follow-up (P = 0.0021). No infection, tumors, or synovitis were reported at the end of the follow-up.
Conclusions: Intra-articular peripheral blood stem cells with platelet-rich plasma regenerated articular cartilage and improved clinical outcomes for knee chondral lesions at five years of follow-up.
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