Cartilage degeneration in the human patellae and its relationship to the mineralisation of the underlying bone: a key to the understanding of chondromalacia patellae and femoropatellar arthrosis?

Eckstein,F.; Putz,R.; Müller-Gerbl,M.; Steinlechner,M.; Benedetto,K.P.
According to the literature subchondral bone plays a significant role in the transmission of load through joints and in the pathogenesis of osteoarthrosis. Therefore the degeneration of the articular cartilage was investigated in the patellae from 30 dissecting-room specimens and of 20 patients, previously submitted to arthroscopy, and subchondral mineralisation of their underlying bone was at the same time assessed by means of CT osteoabsorptiometry. Lateral cartilage lesions were localised over highly mineralised subchondral bone; these appear to be due to long-term stress. They were mainly found in the older specimens and showed a high rate of progression with increasing age. Medially localised cartilage lesions, on the other hand, were situated in a transitional region between moderate and slight subchondral mineralisation; they may be caused by infrequent stress peaks and by shear stress in the articular cartilage, the very medial part of the joint being deprived of mechanical stimulation for much of the time. These lesions were to be found predominantly in the younger specimens and showed little progress with advancing age. Patients with lateral cartilage degeneration exhibited higher, patients with medial chondromalacia patellae lower mineralisation than normals. Their density patterns therefore indicate a different mechanical pathogenesis of the cartilage lesions in the lateral and medial facet. It could be shown that CT osteoabsorptiometry allows an assessment of the mechanical situation, present in individual femoro-patellar joints, and that this situation is highly relevant for the pathogenesis of patellar cartilage degeneration
Surg Radiol Anat 1993
Tags: human
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