Old Man and the KneeWho says you're too old for knee surgery to reconstruct a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)? Doctors Miller and Sullivan recently reported on a rancher who had a successful surgery on his ACL. Nothing new, right? Except that the patient was 84 years old at the time of surgery.
Surgery to reconstruct a torn ACL is usually only done on younger patients. Most doctors consider 40 to be old for an ACL surgery. The authors were unaware of anyone older than 62 having this type of surgery.
According to the doctors, the patient had been trying to get along without surgery, but ranching was too much of a challenge. Walking around on the uneven ground caused his knee to give out on him. Rather than change his lifestyle, he opted for surgery.
The surgery was a success. Three months later, the patient was back to his normal activities. When he went back to the doctor for a six-month recheck, he had full knee movement and near normal strength in his leg muscles. He also scored nearly 100% on a questionnaire about knee surgery results.
The authors conclude that "physiologic age and activity level is more important than chronologic age when considering ACL reconstruction."
Mark D. Miller, MD, and Robert T. Sullivan, MD. Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction in an 84-Year-Old Man. In Arthroscopy. January 2001. Vol. 17. No. 1. Pp. 70-72.
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