➤ Osteochondral lesions of the talus are common injuries in recreational and professional athletes, with up to 50% of acute ankle sprains and fractures developing some form of chondral injury. Surgical treatment paradigms aim to restore the articular surface with a repair tissue similar to native cartilage and to provide long-term symptomatic relief.
➤ Arthroscopic bone-marrow stimulation techniques, such as microfracture and drilling, perforate the subchondral plate with multiple openings to recruit mesenchymal stem cells from the underlying bone marrow to stimulate the differentiation of fibrocartilaginous repair tissue in the defect site. The ability of fibrocartilage to withstand mechanical loading and protect the subchondral bone over time is a concern.
➤ Autologous osteochondral transplantation techniques replace the defect with a tubular unit of viable hyaline cartilage and bone from a donor site in the ipsilateral knee. In rare cases, a graft can also be harvested from the ipsilateral talus or contralateral knee. The limitations of donor site morbidity and the potential need for an osteotomy about the ankle should be considered. Some anterior or far posterior talar lesions can be accessed without arthrotomy or with a plafondplasty.
➤ Osteochondral allograft transplantation allows an osteochondral lesion with a large surface area to be replaced with a single unit of viable articular cartilage and subchondral bone from a donor that is matched to size, shape, and surface curvature. The best available evidence suggests that this procedure should be limited to large-volume cystic lesions or salvage procedures.
➤ Autologous chondrocyte implantation techniques require a two-stage procedure, the first for chondrocyte harvest and the second for implantation in a periosteum-covered or matrix-induced form after in vivo culture expansion. Theoretically, the transplantation of chondrocyte-like cells into the defect will result in hyaline-like repair tissue.