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Magnetic Resonance Imaging Parameters at 1 Year Correlate With Clinical Outcomes Up to 17 Years After Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation

McCarthy, Helen S.; McCall, Iain W.; Williams, John M.; Mennan, Claire; Dugard, Marit N.; Richardson, James B.; Roberts, Sally

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Parameters at 1 Year Correlate With Clinical Outcomes Up to 17 Years After Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation Thumbnail


Iain W. McCall

John M. Williams

Marit N. Dugard

James B. Richardson

Sally Roberts


Background: The ability to predict the long-term success of surgical treatment in orthopaedics is invaluable, particularly in clinical trials. The quality of repair tissue formed 1 year after autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) in the knee was analyzed and compared with clinical outcomes over time. Hypothesis: Better quality repair tissue and a better appearance on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 1 year after ACI lead to improved longer-term clinical outcomes. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: Repair tissue quality was assessed using either MRI (11.5 ± 1.4 [n = 91] or 39.2 ± 18.5 [n = 76] months after ACI) or histology (16.3 ± 11.0 months [n = 102] after ACI). MRI scans were scored using the whole-organ magnetic resonance imaging score (WORMS) and the magnetic resonance observation of cartilage repair tissue (MOCART) score, with additional assessments of subchondral bone marrow and cysts. Histology of repair tissue was performed using the Oswestry cartilage score (OsScore) and the International Cartilage Repair Society (ICRS) II score. Clinical outcomes were assessed using the modified Lysholm score preoperatively, at the time of MRI or biopsy, and at a mean 8.4 ± 3.7 years (maximum, 17.8 years) after ACI. Results: At 12 months, the total MOCART score and some of its individual parameters correlated significantly with clinical outcomes. The degree of defect fill, overall signal intensity, and surface of repair tissue at 12 months also significantly correlated with longer-term outcomes. The presence of cysts or effusion (WORMS) significantly correlated with clinical outcomes at 12 months, while the presence of synovial cysts/bursae preoperatively or the absence of loose bodies at 12 months correlated significantly with long-term clinical outcomes. Thirty percent of repair tissue biopsies contained hyaline cartilage, 65% contained fibrocartilage, and 5% contained fibrous tissue. Despite no correlation between the histological scores and clinical outcomes at the time of biopsy, a lack of hyaline cartilage or poor basal integration was associated with increased pain; adhesions visible on MRI also correlated with significantly better histological scores. Conclusion: These results demonstrate that MRI at 12 months can predict longer-term clinical outcomes after ACI. Further investigation regarding the presence of cysts, effusion, and adhesions and their relationship with histological and clinical outcomes may yield new insights into the mechanisms of cartilage repair and potential sources of pain.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 1, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 7, 2018
Publication Date Aug 1, 2018
Journal Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords articular cartilage, magnetic resonance imaging, histology, imaging, knee, tissue engineering
Publisher URL


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