Clinical and Functional Outcomes of Documented Knee Dislocation Versus Multiligamentous Knee Injury: A Comparison of KD3 Injuries at Mean 6.5 Years Follow-up

Am J Sports Med. 2024 Mar;52(4):961-967. doi: 10.1177/03635465241231032. Epub 2024 Feb 24.


Background: Previous research has found that the incidence of neurovascular injury is greatest among multiligamentous knee injuries (MLKIs) with documented knee dislocation (KD). However, it is unknown whether there is a comparative difference in functional recovery based on evidence of a true dislocation.

Purpose: To determine whether the knee dislocation-3 (KD3) injury pattern of MLKI with documented tibiofemoral dislocation represents a more severe injury than KD3 MLKI without documented dislocation, as manifested by poorer clinical outcomes at long-term follow-up.

Study design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: A multicenter retrospective cohort study was performed of patients who underwent surgical treatment for KD3 MLKI between May 2012 and February 2021. Outcomes were assessed using the International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) score, Lysholm score, Tegner activity scale, and visual analog scale (VAS) for pain. Documented dislocation was defined as a radiographically confirmed tibiofemoral disarticulation, the equivalent radiology report from outside transfer, or emergency department documentation of a knee reduction maneuver. Subgroup analysis was performed comparing lateral (KD3-L) versus medial (KD3-M) injuries. Multivariable linear regression was conducted to determine whether documented dislocation was predictive of outcomes.

Results: A total of 42 patients (25 male, 17 female) were assessed at a mean 6.5-year follow-up (range, 2.1-10.7 years). Twenty patients (47.6%) were found to have a documented KD; they reported significantly lower IKDC (49.9 vs 63.0; P = .043), Lysholm (59.8 vs 74.5; P = .023), and Tegner activity level (2.9 vs 4.7; P = .027) scores than the patients without documented dislocation. VAS pain was not significantly different between groups (36.4 vs 33.5; P = .269). The incidence of neurovascular injury was greater among those with documented dislocation (45.0% vs 13.6%; P = .040). Subgroup analysis found that patients with KD3-L injuries experienced a greater deficit in Tegner activity level than patients with KD3-M injuries (Δ: -3.4 vs -1.2; P = .006) and had an increased incidence of neurovascular injury (41.7% vs 11.1%; P = .042). Documented dislocation status was predictive of poorer IKDC (β = -2.15; P = .038) and Lysholm (β = -2.85; P = .007) scores.

Conclusion: Patients undergoing surgical management of KD3 injuries with true, documented KD had significantly worse clinical and functional outcomes than those with nondislocated joints at a mean 6.5-year follow-up. The current MLKI classification based solely on ligament involvement may be obscuring outcome research by not accounting for true dislocation.

Keywords: KD3; MLKI; knee dislocation; multiligamentous knee injury; outcomes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Knee Dislocation* / complications
  • Knee Dislocation* / epidemiology
  • Knee Dislocation* / surgery
  • Knee Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Knee Injuries* / etiology
  • Knee Injuries* / surgery
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome