Joint effusion at 3 months after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is associated with reinjury

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2023 May;31(5):1798-1804. doi: 10.1007/s00167-022-07081-5. Epub 2022 Jul 30.


Purpose: To evaluate whether joint effusion at 3 months after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction is associated with ACL reinjury.

Methods: The medical records of 227 consecutive patients who underwent single-bundle ACL reconstruction between 2015 and 2018 were reviewed in this retrospective single-center study. Demographic data such as sex and age at surgery, as well as data on preinjury Tegner activity scale score, time from injury to surgery, presence of meniscus and cartilage injuries, and the occurrence of ACL reinjury within 2 years, were collected. Joint effusion was defined as grade 3 (range 0-3) according to the ACL Osteoarthritis Score by magnetic resonance imaging at 3 months postoperatively. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to control for potential confounders.

Results: A total of 176 patients (mean age 22.5 ± 9.9 years) were included. Among these patients, 18 (10.2%) had ACL reinjury. At the multivariate logistic regression analysis, higher Tegner activity scale (odds ratio [OR] 3.12; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.61-6.04; p < 0.001) and presence of joint effusion (OR 34.5; 95% CI 6.63-179.7; p < 0.001) increased the odds of ACL reinjury, and older age (OR 0.68; 95% CI 0.51-0.92; p = 0.012) decreased the odds of ACL reinjury.

Conclusions: Joint effusion with a larger fluid volume at 3 months postoperatively was one of the risk factors for ACL reinjury independent of confounders, such as age and activity level. This result suggests the possibility of postoperative intervention for ACL reinjury.

Level of evidence: III.

Keywords: ACL reconstruction; Joint effusion; Reinjury.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries* / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction* / methods
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Reinjuries* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult