Arthroscopic primary repair of proximal anterior cruciate ligament tears seems safe but higher level of evidence is needed: a systematic review and meta-analysis of recent literature

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2020 Jun;28(6):1946-1957. doi: 10.1007/s00167-019-05697-8. Epub 2019 Sep 5.


Purpose: To assess the outcomes of the various techniques of primary repair of proximal anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears in the recent literature using a systematic review with meta-analysis.

Methods: PRISMA guidelines were followed. All studies reporting outcomes of arthroscopic primary repair of proximal ACL tears using primary repair, repair with static (suture) augmentation and dynamic augmentation between January 2014 and July 2019 in PubMed, Embase and Cochrane were identified and included. Primary outcomes were failure rates and reoperation rates, and secondary outcomes were patient-reported outcome scores.

Results: A total of 13 studies and 1,101 patients (mean age 31 years, mean follow-up 2.1 years, 60% male) were included. Nearly all studies were retrospective studies without a control group and only one randomized study was identified. Grade of recommendation for primary repair was weak. There were 9 out of 74 failures following primary repair (10%), 6 out of 69 following repair with static augmentation (7%) and 106 out of 958 following dynamic augmentation (11%). Repair with dynamic augmentation had more reoperations (99; 10%), and more hardware removal (255; 29%) compared to the other procedures. All functional outcome scores were > 85% of maximum scores.

Conclusions: This systematic review with meta-analysis found that the different techniques of primary repair are safe with failure rates of 7-11%, no complications and functional outcome scores of > 85% of maximum scores. There was a high risk of bias and follow-up was short with 2.1 years. Prospective studies comparing the outcomes to ACL reconstruction with sufficient follow-up are needed prior to widespread implementation.

Level of evidence: IV.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Patient Safety
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Second-Look Surgery
  • Treatment Outcome