Midterm to long-term longitudinal outcome of autologous chondrocyte implantation in the knee joint: a multilevel analysis

Abhijit M. Bhosale, Jan H. Kuiper, W. Eustace B. Johnson, Paul E. Harrison, James B. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Autologous chondrocyte implantation is a cell therapeutic approach for the treatment of chondral and osteochondral defects in the knee joint. The authors previously reported on the histologic and radiologic outcome of autologous chondrocyte implantation in the short- to midterm, which yields mixed results.

Purpose The objective is to report on the clinical outcome of autologous chondrocyte implantation for the knee in the midterm to long term.

Study Design Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods Eighty patients who had undergone autologous chondrocyte implantation of the knee with mid- to long-term follow-up were analyzed. The mean patient age was 34.6 years (standard deviation, 9.1 years), with 63 men and 17 women. Seventy-one patients presented with a focal chondral defect, with a median defect area of 4.1 cm2 and a maximum defect area of 20 cm2. The modified Lysholm score was used as a self-reporting clinical outcome measure to determine the following: (1) What is the typical pattern over time of clinical outcome after autologous chondrocyte implantation; and (2) Which patient-related predictors for the clinical outcome pattern can be used to improve patient selection for autologous chondrocyte implantation?

Results The average follow-up time was 5 years (range, 2.7–9.3). Improvement in clinical outcome was found in 65 patients (81%), while 15 patients (19%) showed a decline in outcome. The median preoperative Lysholm score of 54 increased to a median of 78 points. The most rapid improvement in Lysholm score was over the 15-month period after operation, after which the Lysholm score remained constant for up to 9 years. The authors were unable to identify any patient-specific factors (ie, age, gender, defect size, defect location, number of previous operations, preoperative Lysholm score) that could predict the change in clinical outcome in the first 15 months.

Conclusion Autologous chondrocyte implantation seems to provide a durable clinical outcome in those patients demonstrating success at 15 months after operation. Comparisons between other outcome measures of autologous chondrocyte implantation should be focused on the clinical status at 15 months after surgery. The patient-reported clinical outcome at 15 months is a major predictor of the mid- to long-term success of autologous chondrocyte implantation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131S-138S
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue numberSuppl 1
Early online date27 Oct 2009
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


  • adult
  • chondrocytes
  • cohort studies
  • female
  • humans
  • knee joint
  • male
  • prospective studies
  • autologous transplantation
  • treatment outcome


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