Background: Treatment of osteochondral lesions of the talus (OLTs) in children presents a difficult clinical challenge, with few large series reported.
Purpose: To evaluate functional and radiographic outcomes for children and adolescents undergoing arthroscopic treatment of symptomatic OLT with a minimum follow-up of 2 years.
Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.
Methods: Patients were identified who had symptomatic OLT treated arthroscopically with marrow stimulation techniques. Inclusion criteria were age ≤18 years, symptomatic chronic OLT as the surgical indication, failure of nonoperative treatment, and minimum follow-up of 24 months. Outcome measures included Foot Function Index, American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society Hindfoot Score, Tegner Activity Scale, 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (Short Form-36, v 2), visual analog scale, ankle range of motion, and patient satisfaction survey. Weightbearing radiographs were compared with preoperative radiographs via an ankle arthritis classification system. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to evaluate postoperative lesion characteristics per the MOCART scale (magnetic resonance observation of cartilage repair tissue). The size, location, lesion stability, traumatic etiology, skeletal maturity, and length of follow-up were recorded and analyzed through univariate logistic regression.
Results: The study group consisted of 22 patients (11 male, 11 female) with a mean age of 14.4 years (range, 8-18 years) and a mean follow-up of 8.3 years (range, 2-27 years). Of 22 patients, 20 were satisfied with the results from surgery and would recommend it to others. Mean follow-up visual analog scale for pain was reported as 2.2 on a 10-point scale, and mean American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society score at follow-up was 86.6. Mean postoperative Foot Function Index scores for the study group were as follows: pain, 17.1; disability, 16.5; activity, 4.7; and overall, 38.7. Mean Short Form-36 physical component score was 50.7. Postoperative radiographs indicated a van Dijk osteoarthritis grade of 0 in 56%, I in 38%, II in 6%, and III in 0%. Postoperative MRI MOCART scores showed complete filling of the cartilage in 27% of cases, complete graft integration in 22%, and intact repair surface in 22%, with a mean MOCART score of 48.0. No correlation was found between radiographic and MRI findings and clinical outcomes. None of the prognostic factors were significantly associated with patient satisfaction, progression of arthritis, or MOCART scores.
Conclusion: Arthroscopic treatment of symptomatic OLT in adolescent patients (≤18 years) demonstrated high functional outcomes, high clinical satisfaction rates, and minimal radiographic osteoarthritic progression despite low MOCART scores.
Keywords: OLT; children; skeletally immature population; treatment guidelines.