Patellar cartilage increase following ACL reconstruction with and without meniscal pathology: a two-year prospective MRI morphological study

Xinyang Wang, Kim L. Bennell, Yuanyuan Wang, Karine Fortin, David J. Saxby, Bryce A. Killen, Tim V. Wrigley, Flavia M. Cicuttini, Ans Van Ginckel, David G. Lloyd, Julian A. Feller, Christopher J. Vertullo, Tim Whitehead, Price Gallie, Adam L. Bryant

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Background: Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) together with concomitant meniscal injury are risk factors for the development of tibiofemoral (TF) osteoarthritis (OA), but the potential effect on the patellofemoral (PF) joint is unclear. The aim of this study was to: (i) investigate change in patellar cartilage morphology in individuals 2.5 to 4.5 years after ACLR with or without concomitant meniscal pathology and in healthy controls, and (ii) examine the association between baseline patellar cartilage defects and patellar cartilage volume change. Methods: Thirty two isolated ACLR participants, 25 ACLR participants with combined meniscal pathology and nine healthy controls underwent knee magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with 2-year intervals (baseline = 2.5 years post-ACLR). Patellar cartilage volume and cartilage defects were assessed from MRI using validated methods. Results: Both ACLR groups showed patellar cartilage volume increased over 2 years (p < 0.05), and isolated ACLR group had greater annual percentage cartilage volume increase compared with controls (mean difference 3.6, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0, 6.3%, p = 0.008) and combined ACLR group (mean difference 2.2, 95% CI 0.2, 4.2%, p = 0.028). Patellar cartilage defects regressed in the isolated ACLR group over 2 years (p = 0.02; Z = − 2.33; r = 0.3). Baseline patellar cartilage defect score was positively associated with annual percentage cartilage volume increase (Regression coefficient B = 0.014; 95% CI 0.001, 0.027; p = 0.03) in the pooled ACLR participants. Conclusions: Hypertrophic response was evident in the patellar cartilage of ACLR participants with and without meniscal pathology. Surprisingly, the increase in patellar cartilage volume was more pronounced in those with isolated ACLR. Although cartilage defects stabilised in the majority of ACLR participants, the severity of patellar cartilage defects at baseline influenced the magnitude of the cartilage hypertrophic response over the subsequent ~ 2 years.

Original languageEnglish
Article number909
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2021


  • Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction
  • Cartilage defects
  • Cartilage volume
  • Patellofemoral joint
  • Post-traumatic osteoarthritis

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