Arthroscopic debridement (AD) for the osteochondral lesions of the talar dome (OLT) was widely documented in the nineties with satisfactory results. However, in modern treatment algorithms, its role is not described. The present systematic review aims to evaluate the current evidence on the clinical outcomes of AD in the management of OLT.
Two independent reviewers searched PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus, and Virtual Health Library databases evaluating the clinical outcomes of AD of OLT with a minimum 6-month follow-up. The following terms "talus", "chondral", "cartilage", "injury", "lesion", "delamination", "damage", "excision", "curettage", "debridement", "chondrectomy", "chondroplasty"; were used alone and in combination with Boolean operators AND and OR. Studies in which surgical technique was not described, an additional procedure was performed after debridement, and/or outcomes were not reported separately when more than one technique was implemented were excluded. The modified Coleman methodology score (mCMS) was used to evaluate the methodological quality of the included studies. A narrative analysis was conducted. Publication bias was assessed using the ROBIS tool.
AD showed satisfactory short and medium-term outcomes for the primary treatment of OLT irrespectively of size and depth. However, the heterogeneity of the included studies and the level of available evidence hinders its recommendation.
There is a paucity of evidence evaluating AD alone for OLT treatment in the last two decades. Bone-marrow stimulation techniques remain the first-line surgical strategy for OLT treatment without proven superiority. Adopting AD for OLT treatment instead of MF could represent a paradigm breakthrough in clinical practice given its many potential advantages while preserving the subchondral plate.