Carticel Side Effects Center

Last updated on RxList: 10/25/2021
Carticel Side Effects Center

What Is Carticel?

Carticel (autologous cultured chondrocytes) are cartilage cells used for the repair of symptomatic cartilage defects of the femoral condyle (medial, lateral or trochlear), caused by acute or repetitive trauma, in patients who have had an inadequate response to a prior arthroscopic or other surgical repair procedure (e.g., debridement, microfracture, drilling/abrasion arthroplasty, or osteochondral allograft/autograft). Carticel may be available in generic form.

What Are Side Effects of Carticel?

Common side effects of Carticel include:

Dosage for Carticel

Most patients receive a dose of Carticel ranging from 0.64 million to 3.3 million cells/cm2.

What Drugs, Substances, or Supplements Interact with Carticel?

Carticel may interact with other drugs. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use.

Carticel During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant before using Carticel. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Additional Information

Our Carticel (autologous cultured chondrocytes) Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


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Carticel Professional Information


Information on the safety of implanted autologous chondrocytes is derived from the Study of the Treatment of Articular Repair (STAR) [see Clinical Studies], the Cartilage Repair Registry, the Swedish Series, and post-marketing adverse event reporting.

The most common serious adverse events (> 5% of patients) derived from the STAR study include arthrofibrosis/ joint adhesion, graft overgrowth, chondromalacia or chondrosis, cartilage injury, graft complication, meniscal lesion and graft delamination. Only serious adverse events were collected in this study.

Clinical Trials Experience

The adverse reaction rates as well as the rate and type of subsequent surgical procedures from Carticel® studies of different designs cannot be directly compared amongst each other. Adverse reaction data from these studies do, however, provide a basis for identifying adverse reactions that may be related to product use and for estimating their frequency.

Study Of The Treatment Of Articular Repair (STAR)

In the STAR study [see Study of the Treatment of Articular Repair (STAR)], patients who had experienced an inadequate response to a prior cartilage repair procedure underwent Carticel implantation to the index lesion. A total of 154 patients were implanted with Carticel; 28 patients discontinued the study early. The numbers of patients completing the 24 and 48 month follow-up visits are 136 and 115, respectively. Mean patient age was 35 years at consent. The majority of patients were Caucasian (135; 88%) and male (106; 69%).

Seventy-six (76) (49% of 154) patients underwent 113 subsequent surgical procedures (SSPs) on the treated knee, irrespective of relationship to Carticel, during the 4 year follow-up. Of the 76 patients, 52 patients had 1 SSP, 15 patients had 2 SSPs, and 9 patients had 3 or more SSPs. Sixty-one (61) (80%) of the 76 patients who had an SSP underwent a procedure within the first 24 months after implantation. The majority of patients, 83% (63 of the 76), underwent an arthroscopy or manipulation under anesthesia only. Table 1 shows the interventions during SSPs in > 2% of patients.

Table 1: Interventions during Subsequent Surgical Procedures, Regardless of Relationship, in > 2% of Patients

Intervention % of 154 Patients
Debridement of Cartilage Lesion1 31% (47/154)
Lysis of Adhesions 14% (21/154)
Synovectomy / Synovial Plica Excision 12% (19/154)
Other Debridement2 10% (16/154)
Chondroplasty 6% (10/154)
Meniscectomy 6% (10/154)
Loose Body Removal 5% (7/154)
Microfracture - Index Lesion 5% (7/154)
Scar Tissue Removal 5% (7/154)
Release of Patellar Retinaculum 4% (6/154)
Hardware Removal 4% (6/154)
Microfracture - New Lesion 4% (6/154)
Osteotomy 3% (5/154)
1Includes debridement of index lesion and other defects
2Includes debridement of other joint structures in addition to cartilage (e.g., patellar fat pad)

Lysis of adhesions was the most frequent surgical intervention performed in the first 6 months. After 6 months, cartilage debridement was the most frequently performed intervention. In the STAR study, 61% (46/76) of patients who required an SSP after Carticel did not meet failure criteria by either modified Cincinnati score or surgical criteria (e.g., graft delamination or surgical procedure violating the subchondral bone).

The most clinically significant interventions or findings involving the Carticel graft or periosteal patch are as follows: 3 Carticel grafts were completely removed and 1 was partially removed due to delamination. Partial delamination or fraying of the graft or periosteal patch was reported in 10 additional patients. Four (4) of these patients underwent reattachment/repair of the periosteal patch. Finally, a partially intact graft was found in 1 patient who was re-implanted. Detailed lists of interventions and findings that may have been associated with the graft or periosteal patch are presented in Tables 1 and 2, respectively.

Table 2 shows the serious adverse events (SAEs) that occurred in ≥ 5% of patients, regardless of relationship to study treatment.

Table 2: Most Frequent Serious Adverse Events (in ≥ 5% of Patients), Regardless of Relationship, in the STAR Study

Serious Adverse Events % of 154 Patients
Arthrofibrosis/Joint Adhesions 16% (25/154)
Graft Overgrowth 15% (23/154)
Chondromalacia or Chondrosis 12% (18/154)
Cartilage Injury1 11% (17/154)
Graft Complication2 10% (15/154)
Meniscal Lesion 8% (12/154)
Graft Delamination 6% (9/154)
Osteoarthritis 5% (7/154)
1Encompasses cartilage injuries throughout the joint e.g., onset of new defects and tibial plateau fibrillation
2Includes periosteal patch complications, graft fraying or fibrillation
Registry Based Study (RBS)

Data from a cohort of 97 Carticel® treated patients, who were retrospectively evaluated in the Registry Based Study [see Registry-Based Study (RBS)], showed that 39% (38/97) of patients had a SSP within 3 years of which 63% (24/38) were assessed as related to Carticel. Shaving or trimming (debridement) of overgrown tissue (hypertrophic) commonly relieved patients' symptoms. In the RBS, 67% (16/24) of patients who required arthroscopy after Carticel had a good clinical benefit in terms of improved function and relief of symptoms. Table 3 shows the findings at surgery for the 38 patients who underwent a surgical procedure after Carticel.

Table 3: Most Frequent Findings (in ≥ 5% of Patients) at Subsequent Surgical Procedures in the Registry Based Study

Symptoms or Surgical Findings (MedDRA preferred term) % of 97 Patients
Graft Overgrowth 10% (10/97)
Partial Graft Delamination 8% (8/97)
Chondromalacia 8% (8/97)
Arthrofibrosis/Joint Adhesions 8% (8/97)
Arthralgia 7% (7/97)
Synovitis 6% (6/97)
Meniscal Lesion 5% (5/97)
Loose Body 5% (5/97)
Swedish Series

Of 153 patients treated with autologous cultured chondrocyte implantation in the Swedish Series [see Clinical Studies], 22% (34/153) of patients experienced the adverse reactions presented in Table 4 below.

Table 4: Initial ACI Experience Swedish Series Serious Adverse Reactions (Occurring at a frequency of 1% or more)

Serious Adverse Reactions % of 153 Patients
Tissue Hypertrophy See below
Intra-articular Adhesions 8%
Superficial Wound Infection 3%
Hypertrophic Synovitis 3%
Post-operative Hematoma 2%
Adhesions of the Bursa Suprapatellaris 2%
Hypertrophic Synovium 1%

About 1% of patients developed severe adhesions resulting in “frozen knee” and requiring lysis. Adverse reactions noted at a level of less than 1% included keloid-like scar, pannus formation, significant swelling of the joint, pain with post-operative fever, and hematoma following arthroscopy.

In this series, arthroscopy was scheduled to be undertaken at 18 months of follow-up, regardless of patient symptoms. Of the patients who had arthroscopy, 43% (37/86) had hypertrophic tissue.

Forty of the 85 patients had femoral condyle defects. Of these, 25% (10/40) of patients had some hypertrophic tissue noted at follow-up arthroscopy. Some patients had clinical symptoms that included painful crepitations or catching, and these symptoms generally resolved after arthroscopic resection of the hypertrophic tissue. Ten percent (10%) of patients with hypertrophy required additional treatment after hypertrophic tissue recurred following initial resection. Not all patients with tissue hypertrophy noted at arthroscopy were symptomatic.

Postmarketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been identified during post-approval use of Carticel®. Most of these reactions are reported voluntarily, and it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure. Furthermore, the reported frequency of spontaneous reports underestimates the true frequency of adverse reactions. As of July 31, 2006, approximately 12,500 patients have been implanted with Carticel and 559 patients have reported serious adverse reactions after treatment. The most frequently identified operative findings in these patients, in descending order of frequency, were graft overgrowth, graft delamination (partial or complete), arthrofibrosis, joint adhesions, meniscus lesion or tear, graft complications, chondromalacia, loose body in knee joint, and joint malalignment.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Carticel (Autologous Cultured Chondrocytes for Implantation)


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© Carticel Patient Information is supplied by Cerner Multum, Inc. and Carticel Consumer information is supplied by First Databank, Inc., used under license and subject to their respective copyrights.

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