Biomechanical and Histological Evaluation of Osteochondral Transplantation in a Rabbit Model

Ellis K. Nam*, Mohsen Makhsous, Jason Koh, Mark Bowen, Gordon Nuber, Li Qun Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Background: Biomechanical and histological properties of osteochondral transplantation have not been extensively examined. Hypothesis: Osteochondral grafts have properties similar to native articular cartilage. Study Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: A 2.7 mm (diameter) × 4.0 mm (depth) osteochondral defect was created in 17 New Zealand white rabbit knees. An osteochondral graft, harvested from the contralateral knee, was transplanted into the defect. Eight rabbits were sacrificed each at 6 and 8 weeks. Results: The 12-week grafts (1213.6 ± 309.0 N/mm) had significantly higher stiffness than the 6-week grafts (483.1 ± 229.1 N/mm; P < .001) and of normal cartilage (774.8 ± 117.1 N/mm; P < .003). Stiffness of the 6-week grafts was significantly lower than normal cartilage (P < .036). At all time points, full-thickness defects had significantly lower stiffness than normal cartilage (P < .001). Histologically, transplanted grafts scored significantly higher than the full-thickness defects (P < .001). The defects showed inconsistent, fibrocartilage healing. The grafts demonstrated cartilage viability, yet with a persistent cleft between the graft and host. Conclusions: Osteochondral transplants undergo increased stiffness in the short term, with evidence of structurally intact grafts. Clinical Relevance: Osteochondral transplantation may be a viable treatment option; however, long-term investigation on graft function is necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-316
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Biomechanic
  • Cartilage
  • Histologic
  • Knee
  • Osteochondral transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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