Projecting Lifetime Risk of Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis and Total Knee Replacement in Individuals Sustaining a Complete Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear in Early Adulthood

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2017 Feb;69(2):201-208. doi: 10.1002/acr.22940. Epub 2016 Dec 31.


Objective: To estimate the lifetime risk of knee osteoarthritis (OA) and total knee replacement (TKR) in persons sustaining anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear by age 25 years.

Methods: We used the Osteoarthritis Policy Model to project the cumulative incidence of symptomatic knee OA requiring TKR in varying situations: no prevalent or incident injury; isolated ACL tear, surgically treated; isolated ACL tear, nonoperatively treated; or a prevalent history or surgically treated ACL and meniscal tear (MT). We estimated MT prevalence and incidence and increased risk of knee OA associated with ACL injury and MT from published literature. We conducted a range of sensitivity analyses to examine the impact of uncertainty in input parameters.

Results: Estimated lifetime risk of symptomatic knee OA was 34% for the cohort with ACL injury and MT, compared to 14% for the no-injury cohort. ACL injury without MT was associated with a lifetime risk of knee OA between 16% and 17%, depending on ACL treatment modality. Estimated lifetime risk of TKR ranged from 6% in the no-injury cohort to 22% for the ACL injury and MT cohort. Subjects in the ACL injury and MT cohort developed OA approximately 1.5 years earlier (55.7 versus 57.1) and underwent TKR approximately 2 years earlier (66 versus 68) than the cohort without knee injuries.

Conclusion: Sustaining ACL injury early in adulthood leads to greater lifetime risk and earlier onset of knee OA and TKR; concomitant MTs compound this risk. These data provide insight into the impact of sustainable injury prevention interventions in young adults.

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / complications*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee
  • Cohort Studies
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / epidemiology*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / etiology
  • Risk
  • Young Adult