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Am J Sports Med. 2010 Jun;38(6):1117-24. doi: 10.1177/0363546509357915. Epub 2010 Feb 24.

Autologous chondrocyte implantation: a long-term follow-up.

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Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.



The medium-term results of autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) have shown good to excellent outcomes for the majority of patients. However, no long-term results 10 to 20 years after the surgery have been reported.


Autologous chondrocyte implantation provides a durable solution to the treatment of full-thickness cartilage lesions of the knee, maintaining good clinical results even 10 to 20 years after implantation.


Case series; Level of evidence, 4.


In this uncontrolled study, questionnaires with the Lysholm, Tegner-Wallgren, Brittberg-Peterson, modified Cincinnati (Noyes), and Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) scores were sent to 341 patients. Preoperative Lysholm, Tegner-Wallgren, and Brittberg-Peterson scores were also retrieved when possible from patients' files. The patients were asked to grade their status during the past 10 years as better, worse, or unchanged. Finally, they were asked if they would do the operation again.


There were 224 of 341 patients who replied to our posted questionnaires and were assessed. The mean cartilage lesion size was 5.3 cm(2). Ten to 20 years after the implantation (mean, 12.8 years), 74% of the patients reported their status as better or the same as the previous years. There were 92% who were satisfied and would have the ACI again. The Lysholm, Tegner-Wallgren, and Brittberg-Peterson scores were improved compared with the preoperative values. The average Lysholm score improved from 60.3 preoperatively to 69.5 postoperatively, the Tegner from 7.2 to 8.2, and the Brittberg-Peterson from 59.4 to 40.9. At the final measurement, the KOOS score was on average 74.8 for pain, 63 for symptoms, 81 for activities of daily living (ADL), 41.5 for sports, and 49.3 for quality of life (QOL). The average Noyes score was 5.4. Patients with bipolar lesions had a worse final outcome than patients with multiple unipolar lesions. The presence of meniscal injuries before ACI or history of bone marrow procedures before the implantation did not appear to affect the final outcomes. The age at the time of the operation or the size of lesion did not seem to correlate with the final outcome.


Autologous chondrocyte implantation has emerged as an effective and durable solution for the treatment of large full-thickness cartilage and osteochondral lesions of the knee joint. Our study suggests that the clinical and functional outcomes remain high even 10 to 20 years after the implantation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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