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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to analyse the rate of knee arthroplasty in the population of patients with a history of arthroscopic chondroplasty of the knee, in England, over 10 years, with comparison to general population data for patients without a history of chondroplasty. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. SETTING: English Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data. PARTICIPANTS AND INTERVENTIONS: Patients undergoing arthroscopic chondroplasty in England between 2007/2008 and 2016/2017 were identified. Patients undergoing previous arthroscopic knee surgery or simultaneous cruciate ligament reconstruction or microfracture in the same knee were excluded. OUTCOMES: Patients subsequently undergoing a knee arthroplasty in the same knee were identified and mortality-adjusted survival analysis was performed (survival without undergoing knee arthroplasty). A Cox proportional hazards model was used to identify factors associated with knee arthroplasty. Relative risk of knee arthroplasty (total or partial) in comparison to the general population was determined. RESULTS: Through 2007 to 2017, 157 730 eligible chondroplasty patients were identified. Within 1 year, 5.91% (7984/135 197; 95% CI 5.78 to 6.03) underwent knee arthroplasty and 14.22% (8145/57 267; 95% CI 13.94 to 14.51) within 5 years. Patients aged over 30 years with a history of chondroplasty were 17.32 times (risk ratio; 95% CI 16.81 to 17.84) more likely to undergo arthroplasty than the general population without a history of chondroplasty. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with cartilage lesions of the knee, treated with arthroscopic chondroplasty, are at greater risk of subsequent knee arthroplasty than the general population and for a proportion of patients, there is insufficient benefit to prevent the need for knee arthroplasty within 1 to 5 years. These important new data will inform patients of the anticipated outcomes following this procedure. The risk in comparison to non-operative treatment remains unknown and there is an urgent need for a randomised clinical trial in this population.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





arthroplasty, arthroscopy, chondroplasty, knee, knee replacement, osteoarthritis