Treatment of cartilage lesions: What works and why?

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Cartilage injuries have a high incidence and a high impact on society. In an attempt to fulfill patients' expectations and successfully treat this pathology, various techniques have been developed over the years. Treatments proposed for cartilage lesions are described with their rationale and indications, ranging from conservative measures to surgical approaches, reparative or regenerative. Among the numerous and heterogeneous procedures proposed over time to treat cartilage defects none has clearly proven to lead to a hyaline articular surface nor to offer better clinical results. Regenerative procedures have been introduced as ambitious techniques that aim to overcome the limitations of the more traditional reparative approaches and restore the articular surface with a hyaline-like tissue; improvement in tissue engineering with new scaffolds as well as new regenerative options involving growth factors or MSCs are currently being investigated as promising solutions to further improve the treatment of cartilage lesions. However, the current literature findings are not conclusive. Randomized controlled trials are necessary to evaluate new regenerative approaches, to show clearly advantages and disadvantages with respect to the more traditional procedures, besides their potential, limits, and indications to improve the treatment of patients affected by chondral and osteochondral lesions. Since clear and commonly accepted treatment algorithms are not available in the literature, the massively increasing number of controversial results may be confusing for the orthopaedic surgeon who has to choose the proper management of patients with cartilage lesions. Thus, the results obtained through the study of the authors' 20 years' experience in cartilage treatment were analyzed to give some indications on the potential and limits of different treatment approaches available in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Issue numberSUPPL.1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013



  • Autologous chondrocyte implantation
  • Cartilage lesions
  • Chondral
  • Knee
  • Osteochondral
  • Scaffold
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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