Autologous chondrocyte implantation in a novel alginate-agarose hydrogel: OUTCOME AT TWO YEARS
Autologous chondrocyte implantation is an established method of treatment for symptomatic articular defects of cartilage. CARTIPATCH is a monolayer-expanded cartilage cell product which is combined with a novel hydrogel to improve cell phenotypic stability and ease of surgical handling. Our aim in this prospective, multicentre study on 17 patients was to investigate the clinical, radiological, arthroscopic and histological outcome at a minimum follow-up of two years after the implantation of autologous chondrocytes embedded in a three-dimensional alginate-agarose hydrogel for the treatment of chondral and osteochondral defects. Clinically, all the patients improved significantly. Patients with lesions larger than 3 cm(2) improved significantly more than those with smaller lesions. There was no correlation between the clinical outcome and the body mass index, age, duration of symptoms and location of the defects. The mean arthroscopic International Cartilage Repair Society score was 10 (5 to 12) of a maximum of 12. Predominantly hyaline cartilage was seen in eight of the 13 patients (62%) who had follow-up biopsies. Our findings suggest that autologous chondrocyte implantation in combination with a novel hydrogel results in a significant clinical improvement at follow-up at two years, more so for larger and deeper lesions. The surgical procedure is uncomplicated, and predominantly hyaline cartilage-like repair tissue was observed in eight patients.
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