Radiological Assessment of Accelerated versus Traditional Approaches to Postoperative Rehabilitation following Matrix-Induced Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation
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Objective: To assess the safety and efficacy of accelerated compared with traditional postoperative weightbearing (WB) rehabilitation following matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation (MACI) of the knee, using MRI. Methods: A randomized controlled study design was used to assess MRI-based outcomes of MACI grafts in 70 patients (45 men, 25 women) who underwent MACI to the medial or lateral femoral condyle, in combination with either traditional or accelerated approaches to postoperative WB rehabilitation. High-resolution MRI was undertaken and assessed 8 previously defined pertinent parameters of graft repair, as well as a combined MRI composite score at 3, 12, and 24 months postsurgery. The association between clinical and MRI-based outcomes, patient demographics, chondral defect parameters, and injury/ surgery history was investigated. Results: Both groups significantly improved (P < 0.05) in the MRI composite score and pertinent descriptors of graft repair throughout the postoperative period until 24 months postsurgery. There were no differences (P > 0.05) observed between the 2 groups. Patient age, body mass index, chondral defect size, and duration of preoperative symptoms were significantly correlated (P < 0.05) with several MRI-based outcomes at 24 months, whereas there were no significant pertinent correlations (P > 0.05) observed between clinical and MRI-based outcomes. Conclusion: The accelerated WB approach was not detrimental to graft development at any stage throughout the postoperative assessment timeline from baseline to 24 months postsurgery and may potentially accelerate patient return to normal function, while reducing postoperative muscle loss, intra-articular adhesions, and associated gait abnormalities.