A study presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting suggests that patient education and identification regarding modifiable risk factors may minimize the chance of a future anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. Christopher C. Kaeding, MD, lead author of the study, and his research team analyzed data from 2,695 patients through the MOON ACL injury database from 2002 to 2008.  All patients had a primary ACL reconstruction with no history of contralateral knee surgery. A variety of factors, including sex, age, graft type, meniscal tear status, and body mass index, were identified as criteria for inclusion in the study.

The results of the study show that 4.3% had a graft retear on the same side of the body and 3.6% had a retear on the opposite side. The odds of retearing the same ACL decreased by 9% for each year of increase age, while the odds of retearing the opposite ACL decreased by 4% for every year of increased age. Kaeding states, “Our research suggests that a few risk factors such as, age, activity level, and type of graft utilized may point to the possibility of reinjury. However, with better education about adjustments that can be made, based on these risk factors, patients may be able to minimize retears.”

Kaeding explains, “The study highlights that younger age, higher activity levels at time of injury, and what type of graft used (allograft) may increase risk of same-side ACL injury within 2 years. With individuals having higher activity levels and lower age, retears on the opposite leg were more prominent. Physicians and physical therapists need to better educate our patients about continued neuro-muscular training even after the immediate rehabilitation process has ended to help prevent future tears.”

[Source: American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine]