Full-Thickness Knee Articular Cartilage Defects in National Football League Combine Athletes Undergoing Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Prevalence, Location, and Association With Previous Surgery

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.
Arthroscopy The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery (Impact Factor: 3.21). 02/2012; 28(6):798-806. DOI: 10.1016/j.arthro.2011.11.010
Source: PubMed


To better define the prevalence and location of full-thickness articular cartilage lesions in elite football players undergoing knee magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at the National Football League (NFL) Invitational Combine and assess the association of these lesions with previous knee surgery.
We performed a retrospective review of all participants in the NFL Combine undergoing a knee MRI scan from 2005 to 2009. Each MRI scan was reviewed for evidence of articular cartilage disease. History of previous knee surgery including anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, meniscal procedures, and articular cartilage surgery was recorded for each athlete. Knees with a history of previous articular cartilage restoration surgery were excluded from the analysis.
A total of 704 knee MRI scans were included in the analysis. Full-thickness articular cartilage lesions were associated with a history of any previous knee surgery (P < .001) and, specifically, previous meniscectomy (P < .001) but not with anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (P = .7). Full-thickness lesions were present in 27% of knees with a previous meniscectomy compared with 12% of knees without any previous meniscal surgery. Full-thickness lesions in the lateral compartment were associated with previous lateral meniscectomy (P < .001); a similar relation was seen for medial meniscus tears in the medial compartment (P = .01).
Full-thickness articular cartilage lesions of the knee were present in 17.3% of elite American football players at the NFL Combine undergoing MRI. The lateral compartment appears to be at greater risk for full-thickness cartilage loss. Previous knee surgery, particularly meniscectomy, is associated with these lesions.
Level IV, therapeutic case series.

34 Reads
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background: The relationship between meniscal tears and progressive loss of hyaline cartilage and osteoarthritis of the knee has been reported in the literature. The current treatment protocols for meniscal tears include conservative treatment, meniscal repair, and meniscectomy. Treatment plans are based on factors such as tear pattern, patient age, and associated pathology. The mechanism, pattern, and treatment of meniscal tears vary with age and activity level. Younger, more active patients often sustain more acute tears, which are more amenable to repair due to increased propensity for healing compared with older patients. It is unclear which patients or types of meniscal tears will go on to sustain cartilage loss or osteoarthritis. Objective: In our study, we aimed to determine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in patients with meniscal tears that may be predictive as a risk factor for future cartilage loss. Methods: A database was retrospectively searched for patients with ≥ 2 MRIs of the same knee over a 7-year period, with the initial report containing the keyword "meniscal tear." Follow-up examinations were then evaluated for cartilage loss. Results: Seventy-six meniscal tears were evaluated. Initial MRI findings associated with cartilage loss included subchondral bone marrow edema (P < 0.0001), meniscal extrusion (P < 0.001), radial meniscal tear (P = 0.017), and posterior horn meniscal tear (P = 0.031). In patients without meniscectomy, cartilage loss was observed in 38% (15/39) compared with 76% (28/37) in patients with meniscectomy, (P = 0.0001). Conclusion: Subchondral bone marrow edema and meniscal extrusion were the strongest MRI predictors for cartilage loss in an untreated knee with a meniscal tear. There was significantly greater cartilage loss in patients post-meniscectomy at follow-up than in those who did not undergo meniscectomy.
    The Physician and sportsmedicine 09/2012; 40(3):66-76. DOI:10.3810/psm.2012.09.1983 · 1.09 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Purpose: To evaluate whether medial open wedge high tibial osteotomy (HTO) results in structural changes in the articular cartilage in the lateral tibiofemoral compartment of adult sheep. Methods: Three experimental groups received biplanar osteotomies of the right proximal tibiae: (a) closing wedge HTO (4.5° of tibial varus), (b) opening wedge HTO (4.5° tibial valgus; standard correction), and (c) opening wedge HTO (9.5° of valgus; overcorrection), each of which was compared to the contralateral knees that only received an arthrotomy. After 6 months, the macroscopic and microscopic characteristics of the articular cartilage of the lateral tibiofemoral compartment were assessed. Results: The articular cartilage in the central region of the lateral tibial plateau in sheep had a higher safranin O staining intensity and was 4.6-fold thicker than in the periphery (covered by the lateral meniscus). No topographical variation in the type-II collagen immunoreactivity was seen. All lateral tibial plateaus showed osteoarthritic changes in regions not covered by the lateral meniscus. No osteoarthritis was seen in the peripheral submeniscal regions of the lateral tibial plateau and the lateral femoral condyle. Opening wedge HTO resulting in both standard and overcorrection was not associated with significant macroscopic and microscopic structural changes between groups in the articular cartilage of the lateral tibial plateau and femoral condyle after 6 months in vivo. Conclusion: Opening wedge HTO resulting in both standard and overcorrection is a safe procedure for the articular cartilage in an intact lateral tibiofemoral compartment of adult sheep at 6 months postoperatively.
    Knee Surgery Sports Traumatology Arthroscopy 01/2013; 22(7). DOI:10.1007/s00167-013-2410-6 · 3.05 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Articular cartilage injuries of the knee are an increasingly common source of pain and dysfunction, particularly in the athletic population. In the athlete, untreated articular cartilage defects can represent a career threatening injury and create a significant obstacle in returning to full athletic participation. The markedly limited healing potential of articular cartilage often leads to continued deterioration and progressive functional limitations. Numerous studies have shown that full thickness articular cartilage lesions are frequently encountered at the time of arthroscopy, particularly associated with athletic injury. A variety of surgical treatment options exist, including debridement, microfracture, osteochondral autograft, osteochondral allograft, and autologous chondrocyte implantation. Each technique has advantages and limitations for restoring articular cartilage function, and emerging technology continues to improve the results of treatment. Our article provides an evidence-based review on the etiology and prevalence of articular cartilage injuries in athletes, along with the principles and techniques available for restoring articular cartilage function following injury.
    The Physician and sportsmedicine 05/2013; 41(2):75-86. DOI:10.3810/psm.2013.05.2017 · 1.09 Impact Factor
Show more


34 Reads
Available from