Range of motion and complications following primary repair versus reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament

Knee. 2017 Aug;24(4):798-807. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2017.04.007. Epub 2017 May 24.


Introduction: Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in primary anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) repair. The procedure is less invasive than ACL reconstruction, yet studies assessing early postoperative course are lacking. Goal therefore was to assess postoperative range of motion (ROM), complications and operative times following primary repair and compare this to the gold standard of reconstruction.

Methods: A retrospective study was performed for which 52 repair and 90 reconstruction patients could be included. Patients were examined at one week and one, three and six months. Rehabilitation protocol consisted of early ROM and was equal for both groups. Outcomes were compared using independent t-tests and chi-square tests, and reported in mean±standard deviation.

Results: Repair had more ROM than reconstruction patients at one week (89°±18 vs. 61°±21, p<0.01) and one month (125°±14 vs. 116°±18, p < 0.01) postoperatively. Fewer repair patients had 90° ROM at one week (23% vs. 84%, p<0.01), and more repair patients had full ROM at one month (57% vs. 30%, p<0.01). Treatment of meniscal lesions, but not chondral lesions, influenced ROM. Trends towards fewer complications (2% vs. 9%, p=0.19) and infections (0% vs. 6%, p=0.20) were noted following primary repair, and the procedure was significantly shorter.

Conclusions: Following primary repair, patients had better ROM, and trends towards fewer complications than reconstruction. Primary repair is a safe, brief procedure with early ROM and low complication rates.

Keywords: Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction; Anterior cruciate ligament repair; Complications; Operative time; Range of motion.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / adverse effects
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / methods*
  • Arthroscopy / adverse effects
  • Arthroscopy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Operative Time
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult