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Cartilage Restoration for Isolated Patellar Chondral Defects: An Updated Systematic Review.

BACKGROUND: Patellar chondral lesions can be particularly challenging to manage in younger and more active populations.

PURPOSE: To synthesize, organize, and summarize the results and complication rates of various patellar cartilage restoration techniques.

STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review; Level of evidence, 4.

METHODS: We performed this systematic review according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines using the Medline, Embase, Scopus, and Cochrane databases. Studies were included that reported on surgical treatment of patellar chondral defects with ≥5 patients and 12 months of follow-up data. Relevant demographic data from the included studies were extracted, and patient-reported outcome scores, visual analog scale for pain results, return-to-sport rate, complications, and concomitant procedures were documented.

RESULTS: There were 24 studies that met the inclusion criteria, with a total of 575 patients (male, n = 239; female, n = 336). In total, 6 surgical techniques were utilized. In 9 studies, the surgical procedure of choice was osteochondral autograft transplantation (OAT); 8 studies evaluated autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI); 3 evaluated advanced microfracture/autologous matrix-induced chondrogenesis; 1 evaluated osteochondral allograft transplantation (OCA); 1 evaluated particulate juvenile articulated cartilage; and 2 evaluated a synthetic osteochondral graft. No uniform functional outcome score or assessment was utilized across studies. OAT was predominantly used for smaller chondral lesions (<2 cm2 ) and demonstrated minimal complication rates and satisfactory outcome scores. Advanced microfracture techniques showed promise, with improvement in outcome scores and zero complications. Matrix-induced ACI consistently exhibited higher mean improvement in the measured outcome scores and resulted in fewer complications when compared with previous generations of ACI.

CONCLUSION: OAT and ACI were the most studied procedures for isolated patellar chondral defects. Advanced microfracture techniques showed promise, but indications (ie, size) and variability in techniques need to be elucidated in higher-level studies. Further prospective studies comparing OCA and matrix-induced ACI for larger patellar defects are necessary to determine the superior technique.

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