Delay of Timing of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Is Associated With Lower Risk of Arthrofibrosis Requiring Intervention

Arthroscopy. 2023 Jul;39(7):1682-1689.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2023.01.102. Epub 2023 Feb 10.


Purpose: To conduct 2 separate stratum-specific likelihood ratio analyses in patients younger than 40 year of age (<40 years) and those aged 40 and older (40+ years) at time of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction to define data-driven strata between ACL tear and primary isolated ACL reconstruction in which the risk of arthrofibrosis, using manipulation under anesthesia and arthroscopic lysis of adhesions as surrogates, is significantly different.

Methods: A retrospective cohort analysis was conducted using the PearlDiver Database. Patients who underwent ACL reconstruction were identified using the Current Procedure Terminology code 29888. Patients were stratified to those aged younger than 40 (<40) and those 40 and older (40+) at time of ACL reconstruction. The incidence of 2-year arthrofibrosis was calculated for weekly intervals from initial ACL injury to reconstruction. Stratum specific likelihood ratio analysis was conducted to determine data-driven intervals from initial ACL tear to reconstruction that optimize differences in 2-year arthrofibrosis. Following the identification of these intervals for both those <40 and 40+, multivariable analysis was conducted.

Results: For those <40, stratum-specific likelihood ratio analysis identified only 2 data-driven timing strata: 0-5 and 6-26 weeks. For those 40+, stratum-specific likelihood ratio analysis also only identified 2 data-driven strata: 0-9 and 10-26 weeks. A delay in ACL reconstruction from initial injury by at least 6 weeks in patients younger than 40 and at least 10 weeks in patients older than 40 years is associated with a 65% and 35% reduction of 2-year manipulation under anesthesia and arthroscopic lysis of adhesions, respectively.

Conclusions: Our analysis showed a delay in ACLR of at least 6 weeks in patients younger than 40 years to be associated with a 65% reduction in the risk of surgical intervention for arthrofibrosis and a delay of at least 10 weeks in patients 40 years and older to be associated with only a 35% reduction in the risk of surgical intervention for arthrofibrosis. The authors propose this difference in reduction to be multifactorial and potentially associated with mechanism of injury, activity level, and preoperative factors such as amount of physical therapy, rather than solely timing.

Level of evidence: Level III, retrospective comparative prognostic study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries* / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction* / methods
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Joint Diseases* / etiology
  • Joint Diseases* / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies