All-Arthroscopic Hydrogel-Based Autologous Chondrocyte Transplantation in the Knee Joint: Good Clinical and Magnetic Resonance Imaging Outcome After 24 Months

Arthroscopy. 2021 Jun;37(6):1892-1899.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2021.01.038. Epub 2021 Feb 1.


Purpose: To evaluate subjective and objective clinical and magnetic resonance imaging-based radiologic outcomes after short-term follow-up in patients with focal full-size cartilage lesions of the knee joint treated with all-arthroscopic hydrogel-based autologous chondrocyte transplantation.

Methods: A retrospective study on patients with isolated focal cartilage defects of the knee joint who were treated with arthroscopically conducted matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte transplantation was performed. Clinical scores were assessed at baseline and final follow-up using the Tegner Score, visual analog scale, the International Knee Documentation Committee, and the 5 subscales of the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score. Magnetic resonance imaging scans of the treated knee joints were evaluated with the updated MOCART (Magnetic Resonance Observation of Cartilage Repair Tissue) 2.0 scoring system at follow-up.

Results: Twenty-nine consecutive patients were included in the study. Mean time to follow-up was 24.9 ± 1.1 months. Average visual analog scale decreased significantly from 6.5 ± 3.1 preoperatively to 2.3 ± 1.6 at follow-up (P < .0001). Tegner score increased from 3.1 ± 1.3 to 4.3 ± 1.2 (P < .0001) and the International Knee Documentation Committee from 43.8 ± 21.9 to 64.9 ± 18.9 (P < .0001). Also, all Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score subscales displayed significant improvements. Patients showed similar improvements of nearly all clinical scores independent of the defect size. Average MOCART2.0 score was 70.0 ± 13.6 and 20 patients scored ≥70 points. All 8 patients with large defects (>5 cm2) scored ≥75 points.

Conclusions: In this small study, injectable matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte transplantation therapy in the knee joint led to favourable clinical and radiologic short-term results with significant improvements in all clinical scores and MOCART2.0 scores, confirming morphologic integrity of the transplanted chondrocytes. Therefore, this minimally invasive procedure represents a promising operative technique for cartilage regeneration, even for large-diameter lesions.

Level of evidence: IV, therapeutic case series.

MeSH terms

  • Cartilage, Articular* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cartilage, Articular* / surgery
  • Chondrocytes*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transplantation, Autologous


  • Hydrogels