Revision anterior cruciate ligament surgery

Clin Sports Med. 1999 Jan;18(1):109-71. doi: 10.1016/s0278-5919(05)70133-2.


An increasing number of revision ACL reconstructions are being performed each year. Revision ACL surgery is challenging and cannot be approached in the same manner as primary ACL surgery. Successful revision ACL surgery requires a detailed history, a comprehensive physical examination, appropriate radiologic studies, and careful preoperative planning. The results of revision ACL surgery do not equal the results of primary ACL surgery, and this should be explained to the patient prior to surgery. In order to avoid repeating errors that led to failure of the primary reconstruction, the etiology of the primary failure must be clearly understood before proceeding with the revision procedure. Although graft failure is the most common reason for failure of the original reconstruction and revision surgery, other non-graft-related problems, such as loss of motion, extensor mechanism dysfunction, and degenerative arthritis, can also result in an unsatisfactory outcome and residual complaints. Errors in surgical technique, specifically nonanatomic graft placement and failure to address associated ligamentous injuries at the time of the original procedure, are responsible for graft failures in most reported series. Preoperative planning must address the issues of graft selection, skin incisions, hardware removal, tunnel placement, graft fixation, and associated ligamentous injuries. Loss of motion and in some cases enlarged bone tunnels may require a staged approach. Because of the weaker initial graft fixation, laxity of secondary restraints, the potential need to address associated ligamentous injuries, and the presence of more significant articular cartilage changes, an accelerated rehabilitation program is inappropriate in most revision cases. Successful revision ACL surgery requires a motivated and compliant patient, a well thought out plan, and an experienced surgeon who is knowledgeable and proficient with a variety of different surgical techniques, graft sources, and graft fixation techniques.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / surgery
  • Clinical Competence
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / surgery
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Medical History Taking
  • Motivation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis / surgery
  • Patient Care Planning
  • Patient Compliance
  • Physical Examination
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Reoperation
  • Treatment Outcome