Osteochondral lesions of the talus are common injuries in the athletic patient. They present a challenging clinical problem as cartilage has a poor potential for healing. Current surgical treatments consist of reparative (microfracture) or replacement (autologous osteochondral graft) strategies and demonstrate good clinical outcomes at the short and medium term follow-up. Radiological findings and second-look arthroscopy however, indicate possible poor cartilage repair with evidence of fibrous infill and fissuring of the regenerative tissue following microfracture. Longer-term follow-up echoes these findings as it demonstrates a decline in clinical outcome. The nature of the cartilage repair that occurs for an osteochondral graft to become integrated with the native surround tissue is also of concern. Studies have shown evidence of poor cartilage integration, with chondrocyte death at the periphery of the graft, possibly causing cyst formation due to synovial fluid ingress. Biological adjuncts, in the form of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC), have been investigated with regard to their potential in improving cartilage repair in both in vitro and in vitro settings. The in vitro literature indicates that these biological adjuncts may increase chondrocyte proliferation as well as synthetic capability, while limiting the catabolic effects of an inflammatory joint environment. These findings have been extrapolated to in vitro animal models, with results showing that both PRP and BMAC improve cartilage repair. The basic science literature therefore establishes the proof of concept that biological adjuncts may improve cartilage repair when used in conjunction with reparative and replacement treatment strategies for osteochondral lesions of the talus.
Keywords: Osteochondral lesion, Cartilage repair, Platelet-rich plasma, Bone marrow aspirate concentrate