Knee laxity after complete anterior cruciate ligament tear: a prospective study over 15 years

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2012 Apr;22(2):156-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01157.x. Epub 2010 Jul 29.


There is limited knowledge of knee laxity in the long term after a complete anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear treated without ACL reconstruction. The aim of this study was (1) to describe the clinical course of knee laxity after a complete ACL tear over 15 years, and (2) to study the association between knee laxity and meniscal injuries and the development of knee osteoarthritis (OA). We studied 100 consecutive subjects [mean (SD) age 26 (8) years] presenting with acute ACL injury prospectively. The initial treatment in all subjects was knee rehabilitation without reconstructive surgery. The subjects were examined with Lachman's and pivot-shift tests at baseline, 6 weeks, 3 months, 1 year, 3 years and 15 years after the injury. Sagittal knee laxity was also evaluated with the KT-1000 arthrometer at the 15-year follow-up. During follow-up, 22 subjects were ACL reconstructed due to unacceptable knee instability. There was only a mild remaining knee laxity [median Lachman grade and pivot-shift test value of 1 on a 4-grade scale (0-3)] after 15 years in subjects treated without primary ACL reconstruction. Knees with higher anterior sagittal knee laxity 3 months after the injury had a worse long-term outcome with respect to meniscal injuries and knee OA development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Arthrometry, Articular
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / complications*
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology*
  • Knee Injuries / complications*
  • Knee Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / complications
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries