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Acute Articular Cartilage Tear N069

Last amended 
11 March 2019

In this section

Current RMA Instruments
Reasonable Hypothesis SOP
21 of 2019
Balance of Probabilities SOP
22 of 2019
Changes from previous Instruments

SOP Bulletin 207

ICD Coding
  • ICD-9-CM Codes: 836.2, 848.8
  • ICD-10-AM Codes: S83.3, T14.31
Brief description

This SOP covers acute injury to the cartilage that lines the articular (joint) surfaces of bones.

Confirming the diagnosis

This diagnosis is made at arthroscopy or on CT scan or MRI scan, in conjuction with a history consistent with an acute tear.  The diagnosis cannot reliably be made on clinical grounds alone, nor on the basis of a plain X-ray or nuclear bone scan.

The relevant medical specialist is an orthopaedic surgeon.

Additional diagnoses covered by SOP
  • Chondral defects
  • Chondral fractures – note that fractures are properly considered as breaks of bone rather than cartilage
  • Osteochondral defects – It is likely that the fracture Statement of Principle would also apply
Related conditions that may be covered by SOP (further information required)
  • Chondromalacia – This term may be used, inaccurately, to describe a chondral defect.
  • Chondromalacia patella – This diagnosis may be misapplied to a case of acute articular cartilage tear of the patella.
  • Loose body – It may be that the loose body arose from an acute articular cartilage tear.
Conditions not covered by SOP
  • Avascular necrosis#
  • Chondrocalcinosis#
  • Chronic tears of the articular cartilage - non-SOP or osteoarthritis
  • Congenital defects#
  • Internal derangement of the knee*
  • Labral tear*
  • Ligament or joint capsule tear* - sprain and strain SOP or internal derangement of the knee SOP
  • Meniscal tears* - acute meniscal tear or internal derangement of the knee
  • Osteoarthritis*
  • Osteochondritis dissecans#
  • Osteonecrosis#
  • Tendon tear, muscle tear* - sprain and strain SOP

* Another SOP applies

# Non-SOP condition

Clinical onset

Clinical onset will be at the time of the relevant acute injury.

Clinical worsening

The issue of clinical worsening should not arise.  Inability to obtain appropriate clinical management should not worsen the acute injury (but may contribute to more serious longer term consequences - e.g. osteoarthritis).