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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1999 Jan;(358):188-93.

Long-term osteoarthritic changes in anterior cruciate ligament reconstructed knees.

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  • 1Australian Institute of Musculo-Skeletal Research, Crows Nest, NSW, Australia.


To consolidate the indications for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction and clarify the long-term prognosis associated with current surgical and rehabilitation techniques, the incidence of osteoarthritis in arthroscopically anterior cruciate ligament reconstructed knees requires investigation. Seventy-two patients with anterior cruciate ligament ruptures who were active in sports requiring sidestepping and pivoting, or who had recurrent episodes of giving way, underwent arthroscopic bone-patellar tendon-bone anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. These patients were evaluated for meniscal damage and osteoarthritic changes at the time of surgery and followed up for 7 years. Fifty-three patients underwent radiographic evaluation at 7 years, which included anteroposterior, lateral, skyline, and 30 degrees posteroanterior weightbearing views. Radiographic evaluation was performed by three independent surgeons and graded as per International Knee Documentation Committee criteria. Results revealed that knees with chronic anterior cruciate ligament deficiency, even those with intact menisci before reconstruction, suffered early osteoarthritic changes. More severe changes were seen with meniscectomy. Acute anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction with meniscal preservation was shown to have the lowest incidence of degenerative change. Controversy exists regarding the timing of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. This study supports early reconstruction of anterior cruciate ligament deficient knees before episodes of giving way occur in individuals intent on continuing activities that involve sidestepping and pivoting.

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