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Evidence-Based Status of Microfracture Technique: A Systematic Review of Level I and II Studies

      Purpose

      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.

      Methods

      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.

      Results

      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.

      Conclusions

      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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