Timing of reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament in athletes and the incidence of secondary pathology within the knee

This study reviewed a single-surgeon series of 300 athletic patients who had undergone reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament in order to establish the relationship between the timing of the reconstruction and the incidence of meniscal and chondral pathology. The patients were divided into five groups according to the time from their injury to surgery as follows: less than two months, two to six months, six to 12 months, 12 to 18 months and more than 18 months. The presence of meniscal tears was recorded and chondral pathology was scored according to the system of the French Society of Arthroscopy.  There was a significantly higher chance of a medial meniscal tear occurring in patients undergoing reconstruction after one year from their injury (odds ratio (7.99, p = 0.004). The odds of having a lateral meniscal tear did not change significantly with an increasing interval to reconstruction. The chance of patients developing degenerative changes was found to be significantly higher in the groups operated on after six months from injury (odds ratio 4.04, p = 0.005).

The study advocates that patients with deficiency of the anterior cruciate ligament should be counselled that there is a significant relationship between the duration of the instability of their knee and the subsequent incidence of both chondral changes and meniscal tears. In order to minimise these risks, we recommend that reconstruction be performed within the first year from injury.

Kennedy, J., Jackson, M. P., O’Kelly, P., Moran, R.. Timing of reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament in athletes and the incidence of secondary pathology within the knee [Knee]. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery – British Volume, Vol 92-B, Issue 3, 362-366.

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