Although many newer cartilage repair techniques have evolved over the past 2 decades, microfracture is still being advocated as the first line of treatment. Therefore it is timely to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to assess and report on the current status of Level I and II evidence studies related to microfracture techniques.
A literature search was carried out for Level I and II evidence studies on cartilage repair using the PubMed database. All the studies that dealt with microfracture techniques were selected.
Fifteen studies that involved microfracture techniques met the inclusion criteria of this review article, with 6 long-term and 9 short-term studies. These studies compared the clinical outcomes of microfracture with those of other treatments such as autologous chondrocyte implantation and osteochondral cylinder transfers. The majority of the studies reported poor clinical outcomes, whereas 2 studies reported the absence of any significant difference in the results. Small-sized lesions and younger patients showed good results in the short-term. However, osteoarthritis and treatment failures were observed at later postoperative periods of 5 to 10 years.
The use of microfracture for the treatment of small lesions in patients with low postoperative demands was observed to result in good clinical outcomes at short-term follow-up. Beyond 5 years postoperatively, treatment failure after microfracture could be expected regardless of lesion size. Younger patients showed better clinical outcomes.
Level of Evidence
Level II, systematic review of Level I and II studies.
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Accepted: May 28, 2013
Received: January 23, 2013
The authors report that they have no conflicts of interest in the authorship and publication of this article.
© 2013 Arthroscopy Association of North America. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.