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Comparison of bioabsorbable pins and nails in the fixation of adult osteochondritis dissecans fragments of the knee: an outcome of 30 knees.

BACKGROUND: The optimal device for the fixation of osteochondritis dissecans fragments of the knee remains controversial and lacks long-term results.

PURPOSE: To review a group of young adults with osteochondritis dissecans of the knee treated with arthroscopic fixation of the fragment using bioabsorbable pins and nails and to examine the medium-term outcome of the fixation via magnetic resonance imaging and clinical evaluation.

STUDY DESIGN: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

METHODS: Twenty-eight patients (30 knees) with osteochondritis dissecans of the knee were treated with arthroscopic fixation using bioabsorbable, self-reinforced poly-L-lactide pins and nails. All patients were young adult males with closed physes. The average follow-up time was 5.4 years (range, 3-12). At follow-up, magnetic resonance imaging studies were used to evaluate subchondral bone healing, and the outcome was evaluated by the Kujala score.

RESULTS: The functional results were excellent or good for 73% of the patients in the nail group versus 35% in the pin group. The lesions treated were large, with an average size of 447 mm(2), affecting the weightbearing area in the majority of the patients. On magnetic resonance imaging, incomplete bone consolidation was predominant in the pin group.

CONCLUSIONS: Arthroscopic fixation with bioabsorbable nails seems to be a suitable method of repair for osteochondritis dissecans of the adult knee and appears to be superior to arthroscopic fixation with bioabsorbable pins.

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