Fate of the anterior cruciate ligament-injured knee

Orthop Clin North Am. 2002 Oct;33(4):621-36, v. doi: 10.1016/s0030-5898(02)00015-9.


Most patients with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries do well with activities of daily living even after follow-up in the range of 5 to 15 years. Most can participate in some sports activity if they are inclined to do so, but most will have some limitations in vigorous sports, and only a few will be entirely asymptomatic. The challenge to the clinician is to understand and predict how ACL deficiency in a given patient will affect that patients's life and activities. In counseling patients about treatment after an ACL injury, the clinician can use knee ligament arthrometry measurements and pre-injury sports activity to estimate the risk of injury over the next 5 to 10 years. Meniscus, chondral, and sub-chondral injuries are not uncommon, but rarely require surgical intervention in the early phase of ACL deficiency. The prevalence of clinically significant meniscal damage increases with time, and is associated with increasing disability, surgery, and arthrosis in high-risk patients. Ligament reconstruction has not been shown to prevent arthrosis, but in prospective studies it appears to reduce the risk of subsequent meniscal injury, improve passive anteroposterior knee motion limits, and facilitate return to high-level sporting activities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries* / physiopathology
  • Knee Injuries* / surgery
  • Prognosis
  • Rupture
  • Selection Bias
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries
  • Treatment Outcome