Treatment of large chondral defects of the knee among patients aged ≥40 years remains a difficult clinical challenge owing to preexisting joint degeneration and the lack of treatment options short of arthroplasty.

To characterize the survivorship, predictors of failure, and clinical outcomes of osteochondral allograft transplantation (OCA) of the knee among patients aged ≥40 years.

Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

Prospectively collected data were reviewed for 54 consecutive patients aged ≥40 years who were treated with OCA. Preoperative levels of osteoarthritis (according to Kellgren-Lawrence classification) and meniscal volume and quality were graded from review of radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging. Complications, reoperations, and patient responses to validated outcome measures were reviewed. A minimum follow-up of 2 years was required for analysis. Failure was defined by any removal or revision of the allograft or conversion to arthroplasty.

Among 51 patients (mean age, 48 years; range, 40-63 years; 65% male), a total of 52 knees had symptomatic focal cartilage lesions (up to 2 affected areas) that were classified as Outerbridge grade 4 at the time of OCA and did not involve substantial bone loss requiring shell allografts or additional bone grafting. Mean duration of follow-up was 3.6 years (range, 2-11 years). After OCA, 21 knees (40%) underwent reoperation, including 14 failures (27%) consisting of revision OCA (n = 1), unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (n = 5), and total knee arthroplasty (n = 8). Mean time to failure was 33 months, and 2- and 4-year survivorship rates were 88% and 73%, respectively. Male sex (hazard ratio = 4.18, 95% CI = 1.12-27.13) and a higher number of previous ipsilateral knee operations (hazard ratio = 1.70 per increase in 1 surgical procedure, 95% CI = 1.03-2.83) were predictors of failure. A higher Kellgren-Lawrence osteoarthritis grade on preoperative radiographs was associated with higher failure rates in the Kaplan-Meier analysis but not the multivariate model. At final follow-up, clinically significant improvements were noted in the pain (mean score, 47.8 to 67.6) and physical functioning (56.8 to 79.1) subscales of the Short Form-36, as well as the International Knee Documentation Committee subjective form (45.0 to 63.6), Knee Outcome Survey–Activities of Daily Living (64.5 to 80.1), and overall condition statement (4.5 to 6.8) (P < .001). No significant changes were noted for the Marx Activity Rating Scale (5.1 to 3.9, P = .789).

A higher failure rate was found in this series of patients aged ≥40 years who were treated with OCA as compared with other studies of younger populations. However, for select older patients, OCA can be a good midterm treatment option for cartilage defects of the knee.

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