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Knee News

Does ACL Reconstruction Prevent Future Knee Injury?

If you've had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee, will you be safe from future knee injury? That's the subject of this study by military doctors. They reviewed the records of 6,576 active duty army soldiers who had an ACL injury.

All soldiers were followed for up to nine years. Slightly more than half (58 percent) had surgery to repair the ACL while 42 percent did not. The researchers looked at how many in each group had another knee injury later. In this way they could compare the results of ACL repair with conservative treatment. They also recorded how much time went by between the first and second injuries.

Here's what they found:
  • Reconstructing a torn or damaged ACL did protect soldiers from further injury.
  • When reinjury occurs, it was the meniscus or the joint cartilage that was damaged.
  • The more time passed, the greater the number of reinjuries in the group who didn't have an ACL reconstruction.
  • ACL reconstruction reduced the risk of meniscus damage by half and cartilage injury by one-third.
  • Young, active adults who don't have an ACL reconstruction are more likely to reinjure themselves later.

    The results of this large study show that ACL reconstruction does protect against future knee injury, especially in young, active adults.


    Warren R. Dunn, MD, MPH et al., The Effect of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction on the Risk of Knee Reinjury. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol. 32. No. 8. Pp. 1906-1914.

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