Timothy Woodacre, Anna Thomas and Vipul I Mandalia
Purpose: We assessed the pain relief achieved by patients following radio frequency energy chondroplasty (RFC) for isolated chondral lesions in the knee.
Methods: Retrospective analysis was completed of operative notes and arthroscopic images of all patients who underwent arthroscopic chondroplasty at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital between January 2009 and June 2012. Inclusion criteria included 1 to 2 defined chondral lesions, less than 2 cm2, of Outerbridge grade II-III, treated via arthroscopic RFC. Exclusion criteria included diffuse articular cartilage damage, additional pathologies affecting the knee or subsequent further injuries or invasive procedures to the knee. Data was collected via a questionnaire assessing patient outcome.
Results: 35 patients met the inclusion criteria, 32 were successfully contacted. Male: female ratio was 16:16, with a mean age of 39.5 (range 19-60).84% (n=27) of patients experienced a significant reduction in pain (mean reduction of 51%, (95% CI 41% to 61%), p<0.001) lasting until the time of study (median of 21 months, range 9 to 31 months). There was no correlation between change in symptoms and cause, site or grade of chondral lesion. There was no significant change to Cincinnati sports activity pre and post RFC. Pre-operative instability symptoms did not significantly improve following RFC. Satisfaction with treatment was in direct correlation with pain relief achieved.
Conclusions: Our study adds to current literature by suggesting short term improvements to pain purely following the use of RFC on isolated chondral lesions.