Current Solutions for the Treatment of Chronic Articular Cartilage Defects in the Knee

EFORT Open Rev. 2020 Mar 2;5(3):156-163. doi: 10.1302/2058-5241.5.190031. eCollection 2020 Mar.


Chondral and osteochondral defects in the knee are common and may lead to degenerative joint disease if treated inappropriately.Conventional treatments such as microfracture often result in fibrocartilage formation and are associated with inferior results. Additionally, microfracture is generally unsuitable for the treatment of defects larger than 2-4 cm2.The osteochondral autograft transfer system (OATS) has been shown to produce superior clinical outcomes to microfracture but is technically difficult and may be associated with donor-site morbidity. Osteochondral allograft use is limited by graft availability and failure of cartilage incorporation is an issue.Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) has been shown to result in repair with hyaline-like cartilage but involves a two-stage procedure and is relatively expensive.Rehabilitation after ACI takes 12 months, which is inconvenient and not feasible for athletic patients.Newer methods to regenerate cartilage include autologous stem cell transplantation, which may be performed as a single-stage procedure, can have a shorter rehabilitation period and is less expensive than ACI. Longer-term studies of these methods are needed. Cite this article: EFORT Open Rev 2020;5:156-163. DOI: 10.1302/2058-5241.5.190031.

Keywords: autologous chondrocyte implantation; cartilage repair/regeneration techniques; mesenchymal stem cells.

Publication types

  • Review