Arthroscopic autologous osteochondral grafting for cartilage defects of the knee: Prospective study results at a minimum 7-year follow-up

Maurilio Marcacci, Elizaveta Kon, Marco Delcogliano, Giuseppe Filardo, Maurizio Busacca, Stefano Zaffagnini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Articular cartilage lesions, with their inherent limited healing potential, remain a challenging problem for orthopaedic surgeons. Various approaches have been proposed to treat these lesions; nevertheless, opinions on indications and clinical efficacy of these techniques are still controversial. Purpose: To evaluate the outcome of osteochondral autografts for treatment of femoral condyle cartilage lesions at a medium-to long-term follow-up. Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: We prospectively evaluated 30 patients (mean age, 29.3 years) with full-thickness knee chondral lesions (2) treated with arthroscopic autologous osteochondral transplantation. Thirteen patients underwent previous surgery, while 17 patients were operated on for the first time. In 19 patients, associated procedures were performed. All patients were evaluated at 2- and 7-year follow-up. The International Cartilage Repair Society form, Tegner score, and magnetic resonance imaging were used for clinical evaluation. Results: The International Cartilage Repair Society objective evaluation showed 76.7% of patients had good or excellent results at 7-year follow-up, and International Knee Documentation Committee subjective score significantly improved from preoperative (34.8) to 7-year follow-up (71.8). The Tegner evaluation showed a significant improvement after the surgery at 2- and 7-year follow-up (from 2.9 to 6.2 and 5.6, respectively); however, we noticed reduced sports activity from 2- to 7-year follow-up. Magnetic resonance imaging evaluation showed good integration of the graft in the host bone and complete maintenance of the grafted cartilage in more than 60% of cases. Conclusion: The results of this technique at medium- to long-term follow-up are encouraging. This arthroscopic 1-step surgery appears to be a valid solution for treatment of small, grade III to IV cartilage defects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2014-2021
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


  • Arthroscopy
  • Cartilage repair
  • Chondral defect
  • Chondromalacia
  • Knee
  • Mosaicplasty
  • Osteochondral autografting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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