Surgical treatment for chondral defects of the knee in competitive running and jumping athletes remains controversial. This study evaluated the performance outcomes of professional basketball players in the National Basketball Association (NBA) who underwent microfracture. Data from 24 professional basketball players from 1997 to 2006 was obtained and analyzed. NBA player efficiency ratings (PER) were calculated for two seasons before and after injury. A control group of 24 players was used for comparison. Study group and control group demographics including age, NBA experience, and minutes per game demonstrated no statistical difference. Mean time to return to an NBA game was 30.0 weeks from the time of surgery. The first season after returning to competition PER and minutes per game decreased by 3.5 (P < 0.01) and 4.9 min (P < 0.05), respectively. The 17 players who continued to play two or more seasons after surgery, the average reduction in their PER and minutes per game was 2.7 (P > 0.05) and 3.0 min (P < 0.26), respectively. A multivariant comparison versus controls demonstrated that power rating during the 2 years after surgery decreased by 3.1 (P < 0.01); while minutes per game decreased by 5.2 (P < 0.001). Twenty-one percent (n = 5 of 24) of the players treated with microfracture did not return to competition in an NBA game. On return to competition player performance and minutes per game are diminished.
MicrofractureKneeChondral defectsBasketballNBANational Basketball Association