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Acta Med Okayama. 2013;67(1):65-74.

Histological analysis of failed cartilage repair after marrow stimulation for the treatment of large cartilage defect in medial compartmental osteoarthritis of the knee.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama 700-8558, Japan.


Bone marrow-stimulating techniques such as microfracture and subchondral drilling are valuable treatments for full-thickness cartilage defects. However, marrow stimulation-derived reparative tissues are not histologically well-documented in human osteoarthritis. We retrospectively investigated cartilage repairs after marrow stimulation for the treatment of large cartilage defects in osteoarthritic knees. Tissues were obtained from patients who underwent total knee arthroplasty (TKA) after arthroscopic marrow stimulation in medial compartmental osteoarthritis. Clinical findings and cartilage repair were assessed. Sections of medial femoral condyles were histologically investigated by safranin O staining and anti-type II collagen antibody. Marrow stimulation decreased the knee pain in the short term. However, varus leg alignment gradually progressed, and TKA conversions were required. The grade of cartilage repair was not improved. Marrow stimulations resulted in insufficient cartilage regeneration on medial femoral condyles. Safranin O-stained proteoglycans and type II collagen were observed in the deep zone of marrow-stimulated holes. This study demonstrated that marrow stimulation resulted in failed cartilage repair for the treatment of large cartilage defects in osteoarthritic knees. Our results suggest that arthroscopic marrow stimulation might not improve clinical symptoms for the long term in patients suffering large osteoarthritic cartilage defects.

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