Return to Play After Osteochondral Autograft Transplantation of the Capitellum: A Systematic Review Academic Article uri icon

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  • PURPOSE: To determine the rate of return to play and to identify lesion or osteochondral graft characteristics that may influence the return to competitive athletics after osteochondral autograft transplantation (OAT) for symptomatic osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) lesions. METHODS: A systematic review was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. A duplicate search of PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science, and CENTRAL databases was performed, beginning from the database inception dates through July 2016, for all articles evaluating the return to play after OAT for OCD lesions of the capitellum. A methodological quality assessment was completed for all included studies. Patient demographics, osteochondral lesion and graft characteristics, the number of patients, and timing of return to competitive activity were collected and evaluated. Association between graft size/number, the time to osseous healing, and return to sport was evaluated. RESULTS: Seven articles met the inclusion criteria. All included studies were case series of moderate quality with a mean Methodological Index for Non-Randomized Studies score of 12/16. Overall, 94% (119/126) of patients undergoing OAT for OCD lesions of the capitellum successfully returned to competitive sports. The mean reported time for unrestricted return to athletic competition after OAT was 5.6¬†months (range, 3-14¬†months). CONCLUSIONS: Current best evidence suggests that OAT is successful in treating advanced OCD lesions of the capitellum and returning athletes to high-level competition. Evidence supporting the association between the size and number of grafts used and the time to osseous healing and return to sport is currently limited. Our assessment of the time to return to athletic competition was limited because of variable surgical technique, postoperative rehabilitation protocols, and outcome assessment. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, systematic review of Level IV studies.


  • Kirsch, Jacob M
  • Thomas, Jared R
  • Khan, Moin
  • Townsend, Whitney A
  • Lawton, Jeffrey N
  • Bedi, Asheesh

publication date

  • July 2017