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British Orthopaedic Research Society (BORS)


Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) has been used for many years for the treatment of symptomatic defects in articular joints, predominantly the knee. Traditionally, cells were implanted behind a periosteal membrane, but in more recent times Chondrogide, a membrane consisting of porcine collagens I and III, has been used. There have been trials comparing the clinical outcome of these two groups of patients; in this study we compare the histological outcome using the two different patch types.

In a study of 100 patients having received ACI treatment of cartilage defects in the knee, 41 received Chondrogide (ACI-C) and 59 received periosteum (ACI-P). All of these patients had a post-operative biopsy taken at a mean of 16.9±9.2 months and 20.8±23.2 months for ACI-C and ACI-P respectively for histology using the ICRS II scoring system. Lysholm scores, a measure of knee function, were obtained pre- and post-operatively at the time of biopsy and statistical differences tested for via a Mann-Whitney U-test.

The mean age of the two groups at treatment was 37±8 and 35±10 years, the size of defect treated was 6.1±5.4 and 4.4±2.7 cm2 and the biopsy follow-up time was 50.6±22.2 and 81.2±34.8 months for ACI-C and ACI-P patients respectively. Both groups exhibited a significant improvement in Lysholm score from pre-operative to the time of biopsy (14.3±25.7; n=100), although there was no significant difference in improvement in Lysholm score between the two patch types. There was no significant difference between the histology score of the two groups, nor was the score found to correlate with the Lysholm score at that time. The individual components of the ICRS II score did not differ significantly with patch type (even for the surface architecture) apart from cellular morphology which was 6.5±3 and 8.2±1.6 for ACI-C and ACI-P respectively.

The histological quality of repair tissue formed with ACI-C differed little from that seen with ACI-P, despite the former group being biopsied ∼4 months sooner after treatment and being used to treat defects which were 39% larger. Hence Chondrogide appears just as suitable as periosteum for use as a patch in the procedure of ACI.