The Clinical Radiographic Incidence of Posttraumatic Osteoarthritis 10 Years After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: Data From the MOON Nested Cohort

Am J Sports Med. 2021 Apr;49(5):1251-1261. doi: 10.1177/0363546521995182.


Background: The incidence of posttraumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) based on clinical radiographic grading criteria at 10 years after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction (ACLR) has not been well-defined in a prospective cohort of young athletic patients.

Hypothesis: Among young athletic patients, there is a high incidence of clinical radiographic PTOA at 10 years after ACLR. Additionally, there is a significant difference in clinical radiographic osteoarthritis (OA) changes (joint space narrowing and osteophyte formation) between ACL-reconstructed and contralateral knees at 10 years.

Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods: The first 146 patients in an ongoing nested cohort study of the Multicenter Orthopaedic Outcomes Network (MOON) prospective cohort presented for a minimum 10-year follow-up. Included patients had a sports-related ACL injury, were aged <33 years at the time of ACLR, had no history of ipsilateral or contralateral knee surgery, and did not undergo revision ACLR before follow-up. Bilateral knee metatarsophalangeal view radiographs were obtained and graded according to International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC), Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI), and modified Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) criteria by 2 blinded reviewers. The incidence and severity of ipsilateral and contralateral radiographic OA were determined among patients without a contralateral ACL injury before 10-year follow-up (N = 133).

Results: Interrater reliability was substantial for the IKDC (Gwet Agreement Coefficient [AC] 1 = 0.71), moderate for the KL (0.48), and almost perfect for the OARSI (0.84) grading systems. Among patients with a contralateral radiographically normal knee, the 10-year incidence of clinical radiographic PTOA after ACLR was 37% as defined by osteophytes and 23% as defined by joint space narrowing. The maximum side-to-side difference in the OARSI osteophyte grade in the medial or lateral compartment was 0 in 65% of patients, 1 in 20%, and ≥2 in 15%. The maximum side-to-side difference in the OARSI joint space narrowing grade was 0 in 77% of patients, 1 in 19%, and ≥2 in 4%.

Conclusion: In young active patients, the 10-year incidence of clinical radiographic PTOA after ACLR was 37% as defined by osteophytes and 23% as defined by joint space narrowing. The mean difference in the degree of osteophyte formation (≤1 grade in 85%) and joint space narrowing (≤1 grade in 96%) between the ACL-reconstructed and contralateral knees was small.

Registration: NCT02717559 ( identifier).

Keywords: ACL reconstruction; joint space narrowing; posttraumatic osteoarthritis; radiographic osteoarthritis; weightbearing radiographs.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries* / diagnostic imaging
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries* / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Orthopedics*
  • Osteoarthritis*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / epidemiology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results

Associated data