Chondromalacia can cause joint pain and synovial effusion with the potential for developing into osteoarthritis. Thermal chondroplasty using radiofrequency energy (RFE) has been reported to be superior to mechanical debridement for treating chondromalacia. We compared short-term changes in biomechanical properties of articular cartilage after treatment with monopolar (mRFE) or bipolar RFE (bRFE) or mechanical debridement (MD) on experimentally created grade II chondromalacia patellae. Chondromalacia patellae was created arthroscopically in both patellae of 15 ponies. Ten months after surgery, each patella was randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups: sham operated, untreated control; MD; bRFE; and mRFE. Animals were euthanized 6 months after treatment and fresh osteochondral sections were collected from the treated area, the border of the chondromalacic and nonchondromalacic area, and from two untreated areas for analysis of mechanical properties. The same areas were harvested from an additional six untreated ponies. The aggregate modulus (HA), Poisson's ratio (vs), and permeability (k) were determined for each area under creep indentation, and cartilage thickness was measured with a needle probe. The relation between zone of calcified cartilage (ZCC) and mechanical properties of hyaline cartilage (HC) was assessed histomorphometrically. Treated areas of all four groups had inferior mechanical properties compared at the same location. The treated and border areas had significantly lower HA values than the untreated areas. Permeability values showed significant differences between bRFE and other treated groups. Chondromalacic areas showed thinning of cartilage compared to nonchondromalacic areas. Biomechanical properties of the injured cartilage were inferior to nonchondromalacic cartilage regardless of the treatment type. mRFE had the highest stiffness value compared to other treatments and significantly higher values than MD. A significant correlation was observed between the mechanical properties of HC and ZCC thickness.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine