MR imaging of cartilage repair surgery of the knee


      • MRI offers morphologic and compositional evaluation of articular cartilage.
      • There are a variety of cartilage repair surgeries to fix (osteo)chondral defects.
      • It is important to know the normal and abnormal MRI appearances of these surgeries.


      Articular cartilage is a complex tissue with unique properties that are essential for normal joint function. Many processes can result in cartilage injury, ranging from acute trauma to degenerative processes. Articular cartilage lacks vascularity, and therefore most chondral defects do not heal spontaneously and may require surgical repair. A variety of cartilage repair techniques have been developed and include bone marrow stimulation (microfracture), osteochondral autograft transfer system (OATS) or osteochondral allograft transplantation, autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI), matrix-assisted chondrocyte implantation (MACI), and other newer processed allograft cartilage techniques. Although arthroscopy has long been considered as the gold standard for evaluation of cartilage after cartilage repair, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is a non-invasive method to assess the repair site and can be scored using Magnetic resonance Observation of Cartilage Repair Tissue (MOCART). MR also provides additional evaluation of the subchondral bone and for other potential causes of knee pain or internal derangement. Conventional MR can be used to evaluate the status of cartilage repair and potential complications. Compositional MR sequences can provide supplementary information about the biochemical contents of the reparative tissue. This article reviews the various types of cartilage repair surgeries and their postoperative MR imaging appearances.


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