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Musculoskelet Surg. 2019 Apr;103(1):55-61. doi: 10.1007/s12306-018-0574-4. Epub 2018 Oct 25.

Current practice: postoperative and return to play trends after ACL reconstruction by fellowship-trained sports surgeons.

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Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, 6801 Park Terrace Dr., Los Angeles, CA, 90045, USA.
Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, 6801 Park Terrace Dr., Los Angeles, CA, 90045, USA.
The Hospital for Special Surgery, 541 E 71st St., New York, NY, 10021, USA.
Midwest Orthopedics at Rush, 1611 W Harrison St., Chicago, IL, 60612, USA.



Advances in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction have allowed for many progressions in postoperative management. However, there is no standardized protocol for immediate postoperative management or return to play. Our objective was to evaluate current trends in immediate postoperative and return to sport practices after ACL reconstruction.


Cross sectional study, Level IV.


Surveys were obtained from four large sports fellowship alumni networks. Demographics included years of practice and ACLs performed per year. Postoperative questions included weight bearing status, brace use and continuous passive motion (CPM) use. Return to play included time for return, brace use and metrics used for clearance to sport.


A total of 143 surveys were completed (32% response rate). Average years in practice were 15.1 years. Average ACL reconstructions performed per year was 20-50 in 44% and 50-100 in 29%. 26% used CPM in all patients, 8% if concomitant meniscal repair and 66% never. Bracing after surgery was used in 84% and 48% after return to play. Return to play was allowed at 6-9 months in 67% and overall 94% from 6 to 12 months. No consensus on return to play metrics was used, with the hop test being most important followed by specific time point after surgery.


Immediate weight bearing after surgery is commonplace with intermittent CPM use. Bracing is common postoperatively and half the time with return to play. Return to play is typically allowed after at least 6 months with no consensus on return to sport metrics. Years after fellowship and ACLs performed yearly had no correlation with postoperative practices.


ACL reconstruction; Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction; Postoperative management; Return to sport


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