Partial tears of the anterior cruciate ligament. Progression to complete ligament deficiency

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1989 Nov;71(5):825-33. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.71B5.2584255.


In a prospective seven-year study, we treated 32 patients with partial ruptures of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) verified by arthroscopy. Twelve knees (38%) progressed to complete ACL deficiency with positive pivot shift tests and increased anteroposterior translation on tests with the KT-1000 arthrometer. Patients with partial ACL tears frequently had limitation for strenuous sports, while those developing ACL deficiency had additional functional limitations involving recreational activities. Three factors were statistically significant in predicting which partial tears would develop complete ACL deficiency: the amount of ligament tearing--one-fourth tears infrequently progressed, one-half tears progressed in 50% and three-fourth tears in 86%; a subtle increase in initial anterior translation; and the occurrence of a subsequent re-injury with giving-way.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arthroscopy
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology
  • Athletic Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Football
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology
  • Knee Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Ligaments, Articular / injuries*
  • Ligaments, Articular / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Rupture