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Good healing potential of patellar chondral defects after all-arthroscopic autologous chondrocyte implantation with spheroids: a second-look arthroscopic assessment

Abstract

Purpose

To report second-look arthroscopic assessment after all-arthroscopic autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) for articular cartilage defects at the patella.

Methods

A second-look arthroscopy after all-arthroscopic ACI using chondrospheres® (ACT3D) was performed in 30 patients with 30 full-thickness retropatellar cartilage defects. The mean time from ACI to second-look arthroscopy was 14.9 ± 16.3 (6–71) months. The quality of cartilage regeneration was evaluated by the International Cartilage-Repair Score (ICRS)—Cartilage Repair Assessment (CRA).

Results

Eleven lesions (36.7%) were classified as CRA grade I (normal) and 19 lesions (63.3%) as grade II (nearly normal). Concerning the degree of defect repair, 25 lesions (83.3%) were repaired up to the height of the surrounding articular retropatellar cartilage. Five lesions (16.7%) showed 75% repair of defect depth. The border zone was completely integrated into the surrounding articular cartilage shoulder in 28 lesions (93.3%) and demarcated within 1 mm in 2 lesions (6.7%). Macroscopically and by probing, 12 lesions (40%) had intact smooth surface, 17 lesions (56.7%) had fibrillated surface and 1 lesion (3.3%) had small, scattered fissures. A negative correlation was found between the overall repair assessment score and the defect size (r2 = − 0.430, p = 0.046) and between integration into border zone and defect size (r2 = − 0.340, p = 0.045). A positive correlation was found between macroscopic appearance and age (r2 =  + 0.384, p = 0.036).

Conclusions

All-arthroscopic ACI using chondrospheres® (ACT3D) for full-thickness retropatellar articular cartilage defects proved to be reproducible and reliable. The advantage of the procedure is that it is minimal invasive. Arthroscopic second-look demonstrated a high grade of normal or nearly normal cartilage regeneration. Although statistically significant differences were not observed, larger defect size and younger age may compromise the result of overall repair.

Level of evidence

III.

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Correspondence to Rainer Siebold.

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All the authors have no potential conflict of interest.

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The study was approved by the local ethics committee of the ATOS hospital.

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Sumida, Y., Nakamura, K., Feil, S. et al. Good healing potential of patellar chondral defects after all-arthroscopic autologous chondrocyte implantation with spheroids: a second-look arthroscopic assessment. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00167-021-06584-x

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Keywords

  • Second-look arthroscopy
  • ACI
  • Autologous chondrocyte implantation
  • Spheroid
  • Retropatellar
  • Cartilage defect
  • Patella