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Too Old for ACL Surgery? Not Likely

A mere few years ago, most surgeons probably wouldn't have considered doing surgery to reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in patients over 40. However, with the steady rise of more technically advanced ways to do this surgery, the boundaries of age are being stretched.

But how do "older" patients fare after ACL surgery? Surely they don't do as well as their younger counterparts. Or do they?

Fresh evidence indicates that patients over 40 have results after ACL surgery that are comparable to patients in their early 20s. Two groups of ACL patients were compared before and after surgery. One group included people over the age of 40. The other represented the typical age group for this type of surgery, ages 20 to 24.

Patients had a recheck within 38 weeks after surgery. The final results showed that the older group did nearly as well as the younger group. Researchers measured the patients' knee motion, ability to hop on one leg, and side-to-side slackness in the affected knee. In each instance, the differences were minimal between groups.

Researchers also asked questions about daily activities and knee function. The questions showed only one major difference between the groups. Younger patients tended to return to higher activity levels after the surgery.

When asked about their opinion of the surgery, the people in the middle-aged group reported being more pleased with their results than those in the younger group.

The authors conclude that being over 40 shouldn't be an obstacle to good results from ACL surgery. Hmmm. Too old to have an ACL surgery? That's almost like saying you're too old to rock 'n roll.

Sveinbjorn Brandsson, MD, et al. A Comparison of Results in Middle-Aged and Young Patients After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction. In Arthroscopy. March 2000. Vol. 16. No. 2. Pp. 178-182.


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