Background: Conventional methods are not suitable for difficult to treat osteochondral lesions of the talus (OCLTs). The role of particulated juvenile allograft articular cartilage implantation is not well elucidated for long-term patient outcomes.

Methods: Thirteen patients with difficult-to-treat OCLTs underwent arthroscopy-assisted implantation of particulated juvenile articular cartilage graft into defects from 2010 to 2012 by the same surgeon. "Difficult to treat" was defined as having at least 3 of the following features or 2 if both variables described lesion characteristics: (1) lesions size of 107 mm2 or greater, (2) shoulder lesions, (3) patients who failed microfracture, (4) patient aged ≥40 years, or (5) patient body mass index (BMI) >25. Patients were evaluated using physical examination, patient interviews, and outcome score measures. Patients had follow-up at 2 years, 4 years, and between 6 and 10 years at their most recent follow-up. Differences in functional outcome scores were compared before and after surgery.

Results: Patients (age: 46.5 ± 11.8 years, BMI: 28.5 ± 6.1) had, on average, most recent follow-up of 8.0 years (range 72-113 months). Average visual analog scale for pain score decreased for patients by 3.9 points (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.18-5.60), when compared to preoperative assessment. Foot and Ankle Ability Measure (FAAM) Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Sports subscale scores also improved from 46.5 to 80.9 (95% CI 21.35-47.43), and from 18.8 to 57.9 (95% CI 21.05-57.10), respectively. Short Form-36 Health Survey physical component scores showed significant improvement by an average of 45.5 points (95% CI 32.42-58.50). American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society Ankle-Hindfoot Scale scores improved from 55.2 to 80.3 (95% CI 12.459-37.741).

Conclusion: These results demonstrate positive patient-reported long-term outcomes for a cohort of patients with difficult OCLTs, followed over the course of 6-10 years after treatment with arthroscopy-assisted particulated juvenile articular cartilage implantation.

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