Acute Anterior Cruciate Ligament Rupture: Repair or Reconstruction? Two-Year Results of a Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial

Am J Sports Med. 2019 Mar;47(3):567-577. doi: 10.1177/0363546519825878.


Background: Contemporary anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) suture repair techniques have been subject to renewed interest in recent years. Although several clinical studies have yielded good short-term results, high-quality evidence is lacking in regard to the effectiveness of this treatment compared with ACL reconstruction.

Hypothesis: Dynamic augmented ACL suture repair is at least as effective as anatomic single-bundle ACL reconstruction for the treatment of acute ACL rupture in terms of patient self-reported outcomes at 2 years postoperatively.

Study design: Randomized controlled trial; Level of evidence, 1.

Methods: After stratification and randomization, 48 patients underwent either dynamic augmented ACL suture repair or ACL reconstruction with a single-bundle, all-inside, semitendinosus technique. The International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) subjective score at 2 years postoperatively was the primary outcome measure. Patient-reported outcomes (IKDC subjective score, Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score, Tegner score, visual analog scale for satisfaction), clinical outcomes (IKDC physical examination score, leg symmetry index for the quadriceps, hamstrings strength, and jump test battery), and radiological outcomes as well as adverse events including reruptures were recorded. Analyses were based on an intention-to-treat principle.

Results: The lower limit for the median IKDC subjective score of the repair group (86.2) fell within the prespecified noninferiority margin, confirming noninferiority of dynamic augmented ACL suture repair compared with ACL reconstruction. No statistical difference was found between groups for median IKDC subjective score (repair, 95.4; reconstruction, 94.3). Overall, 2 reruptures (8.7%) occurred in the dynamic ACL suture repair group and 4 reruptures (19.0%) in the ACL reconstruction group; further, 5 repeat surgeries-other than for revision ACL surgery-took place in 4 patients from the dynamic ACL suture repair group (20.8%) and in 3 patients from the ACL reconstruction group (14.3%).

Conclusion: Dynamic augmented ACL suture repair is not inferior to ACL reconstruction in terms of subjective patient-reported outcomes as measured with the IKDC subjective score 2 years postoperatively. However, for reasons other than revision ACL surgery due to rerupture, a higher number of related adverse events leading to repeat surgery were seen in the dynamic augmented ACL suture repair group within 2 years postoperatively.

Clinical relevance: Dynamic augmented ACL suture repair might be a viable treatment option for patients with an acute ACL rupture.

Registration: NCT02310854 ( identifier).

Keywords: ACL reconstruction; ACL suture repair; anterior cruciate ligament; biological healing enhancement; biology of ligament; dynamic intraligamentary stabilization.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / adverse effects
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / methods*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnosis
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Reoperation
  • Suture Techniques*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Analog Scale
  • Young Adult

Associated data