Purpose: The frequency of meniscal root tears in association with multi-ligament knee injury has not been established but adds to the complexity of surgical reconstruction and may have long-term consequences. Therefore, identifying root tears, on preoperative imaging, is important. The aim of this study was to identify the frequency of meniscal root tears, on preoperative magnetic resonance imaging, following multi-ligament injury and distinguish associated injury patterns that may aid detection.
Methods: Cases were identified from a prospectively collected institutional database. The magnetic resonance imaging of 188 multi-ligament injuries [median age 31 years (range 16-64)] was retrospectively reviewed by three musculoskeletal radiologists with the presence of meniscal injuries recorded alongside the ligament injury pattern and intra-articular fractures. Assessment of injury pattern was solely made on this imaging.
Results: 38 meniscal root injuries were identified in 37 knees (overall frequency = 20.2%; medial = 10.6%; lateral = 9.6%). The frequency of meniscal root tears was not increased in higher grade injuries (21.5% vs. 17.0%, n.s.). Valgus injury patterns were associated with lateral root tears (p < 0.05) and varus patterns were associated with medial root tears (p < 0.05). Further, fractures in the same compartment were associated with both medial and lateral root tears (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Meniscal root tears occur more frequently in multi-ligament knee injury than previously reported with isolated anterior cruciate rupture. Root tears can be predicted by ligament injury patterns and fractures sustained (suggestive of a compressive force). In multi-ligament cases, the preoperative magnetic resonance imaging can be used to detect these tears and associated patterns of injury.
Level of evidence: IV.
Keywords: Knee dislocation; Magnetic resonance imaging; Meniscal root tear; Multi-ligament injury; Radiologic.