Background: The purpose of this study was to identify the determinants of patient satisfaction with the outcome after reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament.
Methods: A cohort of 201 patients undergoing primary reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament was studied prospectively. All patients were followed for a minimum of two years (mean, 35.9 months). The dependent variable was patient satisfaction with the outcome, graded ordinally on a scale of 1 to 10. Nonparametric univariate analysis and multivariable modeling were performed to identify determinants of satisfaction.
Results: The demographic variables were not found to have a significant association (p > 0.05) with patient satisfaction. The variables at surgery demonstrated a significant association (p < 0.05) with patient satisfaction only with respect to the status of the lateral meniscus, the presence of osteophytes, and concurrent plica excision. The objective variables at follow-up revealed that patients were significantly less satisfied (p < 0.05) if they had a flexion contracture, increased laxity of the involved leg on the manual maximum test as measured on a KT-1000 device, an abnormal result on the pivot-shift examination, effusion, or tenderness at the medial joint line or patella. With regard to the subjective symptoms at follow-up, patients were found to be significantly (p < 0.05) less satisfied with the outcome if they had symptoms of pain, swelling, partial giving-way, full giving-way, locking, noise, stiffness, or a limp. Analysis of the subjective function at follow-up demonstrated that patients were significantly less satisfied (p < 0.05) with the outcome if they had a lower level of activity, sports activity, strenuous work, activities of daily living, overall knee function, sports participation, or symptom-free activity; if they were unemployed; or if they had difficulty with walking, squatting, ascending or descending stairs, running, jumping, cutting, or twisting. Patient satisfaction was significantly associated (p < 0.05) with the Lysholm knee score, overall International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) knee score, IKDC subjective subscore, IKDC symptoms subscore, and IKDC range-of-motion subscore. The seven independent multivariate determinants (adjusted R (2) = 0.83, p < 0.001) of patient satisfaction included the Lysholm score, overall subjective knee function, IKDC range-of-motion subscale, patellar tenderness, full giving-way, flexion contracture, and swelling.
Conclusions: Univariate and multivariate determinants of patient satisfaction with the outcome after reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament were established. Although some specific surgical and objective variables were important, subjective variables of symptoms and function had the most robust associations with patient satisfaction. In assessing the outcome of reconstruction from the perspective of patient satisfaction with the outcome, we should emphasize patient-derived subjective assessment of symptoms and function, particularly those involving issues of stiffness, giving-way, swelling, and patellofemoral symptoms.