Osteoarthritis and Cartilage vol:15 issue:12 pages:1397-1402
OBJECTIVE: For young patients with cartilage defects, the emergence of clinically applicable cell therapy for biological joint reconstruction is an appealing prospect. Acceptation of this method as a means of standard care requires proof of being reproducible, having long-lasting mechanical integrity, and having a good clinical outcome. This study evaluates the reliability of the International Cartilage Repair Society (ICRS) score and the Oswestry Arthroscopy Score (OAS) in the assessment of regenerative cartilage repair. METHOD: A total of 101 macroscopic images of cartilage repair were made during arthroscopy 12 months post-treatment of either Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI) or microfracture. These images were examined by seven independent observers with differing levels of experience. The ICRS and OAS scores were randomly presented twice at a 4-week interval. All observers stated their predicted outcome according to actual treatment and defect size. RESULTS: ICRS and OAS scores showed both good inter- and intra observer reliability (0.62 and 0.56 for ICRS; 0.73 and 0.65 for OAS, respectively). Internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha) was satisfactory for research purposes (0.79 and 0.74, respectively). Correlation (equivalence concordance) between both scoring systems was excellent (r=0.94). All observers were inconsistent in predicting actual treatment. Test-re test reliability of estimated defect size and its correlation to true defect size were poor. These results were also applicable to the sub-analyses of the experience of the observer and the quality of imaging. CONCLUSION: The ICRS and OAS are reliable and relevant scores that are now both validated for macroscopic evaluation of cartilage repair as a research tool.