By: 29 June 2016
Procedures to repair knee cartilage show promise for patients over 40

Procedures to repair knee cartilage show promise for patients over 40

Two studies at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York have found that cartilage restoration procedures are a viable treatment option for patients over 40 years old.

The research, presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, found that procedures using different types of cartilage plug relieved pain and improved function in patients with articular cartilage damage.

The patients that participated in the studies had degenerative changes in their cartilage and isolated areas of pain and swelling, characteristic of arthritis. Most of the patients did not meet the criteria for total knee replacement. Cartilage restoration is not intended for patients with advanced bone-on-bone arthritis.

The first study included 35 patients whose damaged cartilage was under their kneecap. The second looked at 61 patients with damage was at the end of the femur. The mean age in both studies was 51.5, and participants had no knee injury other than the cartilage lesion. All had a minimum follow-up of two years after surgery.

“Various cartilage restoration procedures have demonstrated success rates ranging from 50 to 90 per cent, but the majority of reported results were in patients aged 30 and younger,” said Riley Williams, senior study author and director of the Institute for Cartilage Repair at HSS. “Our studies are the first to look at outcomes of three specific procedures used to repair damaged cartilage in patients over 40.”

Williams performed cartilage restoration surgery using various types of plugs to fill in the hole, or damaged area. More than half of the patients received a synthetic plug. The other patients received either a donor cartilage plug or a small plug of cartilage transferred from another healthy area of their knee that did support their weight.

At the average follow-up of 3.5 years, the vast majority of patients reported higher activity levels and decreased pain, as well as a high degree of satisfaction with the procedure, according to Williams. There were no statistically significant differences in outcomes among the different treatments.

“For the first time, this middle-aged group of athletic individuals may have some good options to repair cartilage lesions,” said Williams. “In addition to improving their quality of life, this may help them delay the need for a knee replacement down the road.”

Source: Science Daily and Hospital for Special Surgery