Arthroscopic debridement for focal articular cartilage lesions of the knee: A systematic review.

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Arthroscopic debridement, the most commonly applied surgical technique for focal cartilage lesions in the knee, is not included in most treatment algorithms because of discouraging results in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee. The present systematic review evaluates the outcome of arthroscopic cartilage debridement as the primary treatment of focal knee chondral lesions in adults, and defines its indications and role as the primary treatment of focal knee chondral lesions.Two independent investigators searched PubMed, Cochrane CENTRAL, and Virtual Health Library databases using the terms “knee”, “cartilage”, “chondral”, “lesions”, “injury”, “damage”, “debridement”, “chondroplasty”, “chondrectomy”, alone and in combination. Clinical studies evaluating the effect of mechanical cartilage debridement in adults with symptomatic focal cartilage lesions in the knee joint regardless of the defect size and depth were included. We excluded studies if patients had a concomitant ligament or meniscus injury, and/or had additional debridement with monopolar radiofrequency energy.Available studies suggest good to excellent short and medium-term functional outcomes (KOOS, LKSS, Tegner scale) for focal cartilage lesions treated with debridement regardless of the defect size and depth. Data are lacking comparing cartilage debridement versus other cartilage repair techniques.Arthroscopic debridement of focal articular cartilage lesions of the knee is associated with good to excellent short and medium-term postoperative outcomes, especially in terms of functional improvement. Arthroscopic debridement may be considered in the primary treatment of focal cartilage injuries regardless of the defect size and depth. However, available studies are limited and the level of evidence is low.

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