Experimental Autologous Osteochondral Plug Transfer in the Treatment of Focal Chondral Defects: Magnetic Resonance Imaging Signs of Technical Success in Sheep

Uhl, M.; Lahm, A.; Bley, T. A.; Haberstroh, J.; Mrosek, E.; Ghanem, N.; Erggelet, C.
December 2005
Acta Radiologica;Dec2005, Vol. 46 Issue 8, p875
Academic Journal
Purpose: To describe the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) signs of technically successful osteochondral plug transfer and to correlate the findings with histology using the Mankin score. Material and Methods: The study was done in a prospective animal experiment: 11 adult black-head sheep underwent surgical treatment with osteochondral plug transfer of a knee joint. The animals were killed 6 months later and MRI of the joints was done immediately. MRI was applied with a 1.5T MR scanner using a spin-echo (SE) T1-weighted, turbo spin-echo (TSE) T2-weighted with spectral fat suppression and a fat-suppressed 3D-spoiled gradient echo (GRE) sequence (manufacturer's acronym: FLASH ® ) (TR 50.0 ms, TE 11.0 ms, flip 35°). After MRI, all knee joints were dissected and a biopsy of the plug and the adjacent cartilage was taken. Classification of the cartilage biopsies was carried out in accordance with a modified Mankin score. Results: Cartilage repairs with a hypointense cartilage signal in the FLASH ® 3D sequence were correlated with poor histological results (lower Mankin score). Histologically, the regions of cartilage with a hypointense signal showed a fibrocartilage-like repair tissue. Hyaline cartilage with well-defined layers had the same signal intensity in the FLASH ® sequence relative to adjacent hyaline cartilage. There were two plugs with a surface defect, graded as Outerbridge grade 1 in MRI and histology. Both had a poor outcome in the histologic Mankin score. Grade 2–4 lesions were not observed in the MRI study nor in the histologic study. Conclusion: MRI is a useful non-invasive tool for evaluating the morphologic status of osteochondral plug transfers. A good postoperative result of the cartilage repair was found histologically if an isointense cartilage signal of the graft was documented in the FLASH ® 3D sequence, and the graft had good congruity with the articular surface without defects.


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