Accurate Reporting of Concomitant Procedures Is Highly Variable in Studies Investigating Knee Cartilage Restoration.

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OBJECTIVE: Successful clinical outcomes following cartilage restoration procedures are highly dependent on addressing concomitant pathology. The purpose of this study was to document methods for evaluating concomitant procedures of the knee when performed with articular cartilage restoration techniques, and to review their reported findings in high-impact clinical orthopedic studies. We hypothesized that there are substantial inconsistencies in reporting clinical outcomes associated with concomitant procedures relative to outcomes related to isolated cartilage repair.

DESIGN: A total of 133 clinical studies on articular cartilage repair of the knee were identified from 6 high-impact orthopedic journals between 2011 and 2017. Studies were included if they were primary research articles reporting clinical outcomes data following surgical treatment of articular cartilage lesions with a minimum sample size of 5 patients. Studies were excluded if they were review articles, meta-analyses, and articles reporting only nonclinical outcomes (e.g., imaging, histology). A full-text review was then used to evaluate details regarding study methodology and reporting on the following variables: primary cartilage repair procedure, and the utilization of concomitant procedures to address additional patient comorbidities, including malalignment, meniscus pathology, and ligamentous instability. Each study was additionally reviewed to document variation in clinical outcomes reporting in patients that had these comorbidities addressed at the time of surgery.

RESULTS: All studies reported on the type of primary cartilage repair procedure, with autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) noted in 43% of studies, microfracture (MF) reported in 16.5%, osteochondral allograft (OCA) in 15%, and osteochondral autograft transplant (OAT) in 8.2%. Regarding concomitant pathology, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction (24.8%) and meniscus repair (23.3%) were the most commonly addressed patient comorbidities. A total of 56 studies (42.1%) excluded patients with malalignment, meniscus injury, and ligamentous instability. For studies that addressed concomitant pathology, 72.7% reported clinical outcomes separately from the cohort treated with only cartilage repair. A total of 16.5% of studies neither excluded nor addressed concomitant pathologies. There was a significant amount of variation in the patient reported outcome scores used among the studies, with the majority of studies reporting International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) and Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcomes Score (KOOS) in 47.2% and 43.6% of articles, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: In this study on knee cartilage restoration, recognition and management of concomitant pathology is inadequately reported in approximately 28% of studies. Only 30% of articles reported adequate treatment of concomitant ailments while scoring their outcomes using one of a potential 18 different scoring systems. These findings highlight the need for more standardized methods to be applied in future research with regard to inclusion, exclusion, and scoring concomitant pathologies with regard to treatment of cartilage defects in the knee.





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