A Case Series of Successful Repair of Articular Cartilage Fragments in the Knee

Jessica L. Churchill, Aaron J. Krych, Mark J. Lemos, Morganne Redd, Kevin F. Bonner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: It is unclear whether chondral fragments without bone have the potential to heal after fixation. Controversy exists and opinions differ regarding the optimal treatment of chondral defects after pure chondral fracture. Purpose: To determine clinical and radiographic outcomes after internal fixation of traumatic chondral fragments repaired to bone in the knee. Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: A retrospective clinical and radiographic evaluation of 10 male patients with a mean age of 14.6 years (range, 10-25 years) at the time of surgery was performed. Eight of 10 patients were skeletally immature. Patients were selected by operating surgeons per the presence of a large displaced pure chondral fragment on magnetic resonance imaging and confirmed on intraoperative inspection. All patients had a diagnosed traumatic displaced pure chondral fracture of the knee (without bone) and underwent internal fixation with minimum 1-year follow-up. Validated patient-reported and surgeon-measured outcomes were collected pre- and postoperatively. All patients were evaluated at a mean 56 months postoperatively. Results: At surgery, the mean defect size that was primarily repaired with the displaced chondral fragment was 1.9 × 2.0 cm. With minimum 1-year follow-up, there were no clinical failures. All 8 patients who had subsequent magnetic resonance imaging follow-up had radiographic evidence of complete healing of the chondral fragment back to bone. At a mean follow-up of 56 months (range, 13-171 months; median, 36 months), patients had a mean International Knee Documentation Committee score of 94.74 (range, 87.4-100), a mean Marx Activity Scale score of 14.4 (range, 8-16), and a mean Tegner Activity Scale score of 7 (range, 5-9). At final follow-up, all patients except 1 returned to sports. Conclusion: The treatment of large traumatic chondral fragments is controversial. In this select series of 10 young patients who underwent primary repair with internal fixation, there were no failures clinically. Patients demonstrated excellent short-term clinical and radiographic results after fixation of these relatively large chondral fragments in the knee.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2589-2595
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • cartilage
  • chondral injury
  • chondral repair
  • osteochondral defect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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