Objectives: To establish the influence of the type of surgical technique, competitive level, type of sport and the time before returning to competition on the reinjury rate after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery.
Methods: The authors followed-up 540 competitive sportspeople who had undergone ACL surgery via patellar or hamstring tendon autograft (HTA) techniques in 2003 and 2004. The sportspeople (all of whom had competed at a regional or higher level) were asked to fill out a questionnaire during their fourth postoperative year.
Results: The 298 respondees (reply rate: 55.1%) had the same characteristics as the initial (operated) population. The reinjury rates after HTA and patellar tendon autograft (PTA) were 12.7 and 6.1%, respectively. There was no statistically significant difference between these two values (P=0.14). Age and gender were not correlated with the frequency of reinjury. The reinjury rate rose slightly with increasing competitive level (regional level: 8.1%; national level: 10.4%; international level: 12.5%) but these differences were not statistically significant. Soccer had the highest reinjury rate (20.8%). Regardless of the surgical technique, sportspeople returning to competition within seven months of surgery had a greater risk of reinjury than those returning after this time point (15.3 versus 5.2%, P=0.014). The risk dropped from 13.9 to 2.6% (P=0.047) for PTA and from 16.6 to 7.6% (P=0.2) for HTA. Of the four reinjuries in sportspeople returning to competition with the first six months postoperative, three occurred within one month of resumption.
Conclusion: Post-HTA reinjury rates are higher than post-PTA rates but the difference is not statistically significant. For sportspeople at a regional or higher level, the time interval before the return to competition has an influence on the risk of reinjury.
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