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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2012 Jul;20(7):703-11. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2012.03.008. Epub 2012 Mar 21.

Assessment of articular cartilage repair tissue after matrix-associated autologous chondrocyte transplantation or the microfracture technique in the ankle joint using diffusion-weighted imaging at 3 Tesla.

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MR Centre of Excellence, Department of Radiology, Medical University of Vienna, Austria.

Erratum in

  • Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2012 Sep;20(9):1056. Sokolwski, M [corrected to Sokolowski, M].



The objective was to compare patients after matrix-associated autologous chondrocyte transplantation (MACT) and microfracture therapy (MFX) of the talus using diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI), with morphological and clinical scoring.


Twenty patients treated with MACT or MFX (10 per group) were examined using 3 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 48 ± 21.5 and 59.6 ± 23 months after surgery, respectively. For comparability, patients from each group were matched by age, body mass index, and follow-up. American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) score served as clinical assessment tool pre- and postoperatively. DWI was obtained using a partially balanced, steady-state gradient echo pulse sequence, as well as the Magnetic Resonance Observation of Cartilage Repair Tissue (MOCART) score, based on a 2D proton density-weighted turbo spin-echo sequence and a 3D isotropic true fast imaging with steady-state precession sequence. Semi-quantitative diffusion quotients were calculated after region of interest analysis of repair tissue (RT) and healthy control cartilage, and compared among both groups.


The mean AOFAS score improved significantly (P = 0.001) for both groups (MACT: 48.8 ± 20.4-83.6 ± 9.7; MFX: 44.3 ± 16.5-77.6 ± 13.2). No differences in the AOFAS (P = 0.327) and MOCART (P = 0.720) score were observed between MACT and MFX postoperatively. DWI distinguished between healthy cartilage and cartilage RT in the MFX group (P = 0.016), but not after MACT treatment (P = 0.105). Significant correlations were found between MOCART score and DWI index after MFX (Pearson: -0.648; P = 0.043), and between the diffusivity and longer follow-up interval in MACT group (Pearson: -0.647, P = 0.043).


Whereas conventional scores reveal a similar outcome after MACT or MFX treatment in the ankle joint, DWI was able to distinguish between different RT qualities, as reported histologically for these diverse surgical procedures.

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