Purpose: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture is associated with meniscal tears and/or articular cartilage damage. The aim of this study was twofold: (a) to report and correlate the incidence of meniscal and cartilage lesions in ACL-deficient knees with time from injury and (b) to correlate lesions of menisci and cartilage with widely used knee scores.
Methods: Data were analysed from 109 consecutive patients with ACL rupture. Meniscal and articular cartilage lesions were documented during the arthroscopic reconstruction of the ACL. Patients were distributed into 3 groups according to time from injury; group A: 0-3 months (35 patients), group B: 3-12 months (39 patients) and group C: more than 12 months (35 patients). Lysholm, KOOS and IKDC rating scales were recorded preoperatively. Logistic regression analyses were applied to correlate the concomitant intra-articular pathologies with the time from injury and knee-rating scales.
Results: Of 109 patients, 32 (29%) had a medial meniscus tear, 20 (19%) had a lateral meniscus tear, 17 (15%) had both menisci torn and 40 (37%) had no meniscal tear. Analysis revealed that time from injury was not a significant factor for the presence of a meniscal lesion. The odds of development of a high-grade cartilage lesion in an ACL-deficient knee reconstructed more than 12 months from time from injury are 5.5 and 12.5 times higher when compared with knees that underwent ACL reconstruction less than 3 months and between 3 and 12 months after knee injury, respectively. No association was found between intra-articular pathology and the KOOS and Lysholm scores. A positive correlation between the IKDC score and patients without any intra-articular pathology was found.
Conclusions: The presence of high-grade cartilage lesions is significantly increased in an ACL-deficient knee when reconstruction is performed more than 12 months after injury. However, the incidence of meniscal tears is not increased significantly. Correlation of intra-articular pathology in ACL-deficient knees with knee-rating scales is weak.
Level of evidence: Diagnostic study, Level II.