PURPOSE/BACKGROUND: Clinical outcomes following autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) are influenced by multiple factors, including patient demographics, lesion characteristics, quality of the surgical repair, and post-operative rehabilitation. However, it is currently unknown what specific characteristics of rehabilitation have the greatest influence on clinical outcomes following ACI. The purpose of this study was to conduct a retrospective chart review of patients undergoing ACI with the intent to describe this patient population's demographics, clinical outcomes, and rehabilitation practices. This study aimed to assess the consistency of the documentation process relative to post-operative rehabilitation in order to provide information and guide initiatives for improving the quality of rehabilitation practices following ACI.

METHODS: The medical records of patients treated for chondral defect(s) of the knee who subsequently underwent the ACI procedure were retrospectively reviewed. A systematic review of medical, surgical, and rehabilitation records was performed. In addition, patient-reported outcome measures (IKDC, WOMAC, Lysholm, SF-36) recorded pre-operatively, and 3, 6, and 12 months post-operatively were extracted from an existing database.

RESULTS: 20 medical charts (35.9 ± 6.8 years; 9 male, 11 female) were systematically reviewed. The average IKDC, WOMAC, Lysholm, and SF-36 scores all improved from baseline to 3, 6 and 12 months post-operatively, with the greatest changes occurring at 6 and 12 months. There was inconsistent documentation relative to post-operative rehabilitation, including CPM use, weight-bearing progression, home-exercise compliance, and strength progressions.

CONCLUSIONS: Due to variations in the documentation process, the authors were unable to determine what specific components of rehabilitation influence the recovery process. In order to further understand how rehabilitation practices influence outcomes following ACI, specific components of the rehabilitation process must be consistently and systematically documented over time.


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Published in International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, v. 8, no. 5, p. 670-679.

Copyright © 2013 by the Sports Physical Therapy Section

The copyright holder has granted permission for posting the article here.