[Prevalence and Distribution of Knee Cartilage Lesions in Sportspersons and Non-Sportspersons: Results of a Retrospective Arthroscopic Study.]
ABSTRACT Aim: This study was aimed to evaluate the correlation between sports activity and frequency and grad of non-traumatic knee cartilage lesions.Methods: A total of 868 patients (469 male and 399 female) who were suffering from knee pain (> 3 months) had undergone knee arthroscopy. The mean duration of history was 11.4 ± 11.5 (3 - 48) months. Criteria for exclusion were major knee injuries (e. g., ACL injuries). All cartilage lesions were classified according to the ICRS (International Cartilage Repair Society) guidelines and summarised with the semiquantitative WOAKS (Whole Organ Arthroscopic Knee Score). Results: There was a significant correlation between cartilage degeneration and age. Older female patients (63 to 85 years) demonstrated higher knee degenerations than male patients. The grade cartilage degeneration was higher in non-sportspersons (WOAKS = 13.5 ± 13.8) than in sportspersons (WOAKS = 7.1 ± 5.3), p < 0.001. Only in younger patients (17 to 34 years) was there no difference in the frequency of cartilage lesions in correlation to sports activity. A high-pivoting sport was significantly more frequently associated with cartilage degeneration in comparison to low-pivoting sports. Cartilage lesions most frequently occur within the mean bearing zones of the medial knee compartment. With regard to sports activity, no differences were observed in the distribution of cartilage lesions. Conclusions: Sportspersons who suffer from knee pain without injury have significantly less cartilage lesions or, respectively, severe cartilage defects. Cartilage lesions mostly occur within the medial knee compartment without correlation to sports activity and sport type. Patients who are performing "high-pivoting" sports more frequently are suffering from severe cartilage lesions than "low-pivoting" sportspersons. For a final epidemiological estimation of any correlations between sports and cartilage damage, longitudinal MRI studies are needed.