October 2012

ACL reconstruction fails to improve return-to-sport rates after one year

In the moment: Surgery

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Athletes who undergo surgical reconstruction after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury are no more likely to return to sports one year later than those treated nonoperatively, according to a Norwegian study.

Investigators from the Norwegian Research Center for Active Rehabilitation in Oslo analyzed 69 athletes treated nonoperatively for an ACL injury with 69 matched athletes treated with ACL reconstruction.

Return-to-sport rates one year after injury did not differ significantly between groups. Rates of return to level 1 sports also did not differ significantly, even though athletes who were treated nonoperatively received recommendations not to return to sports at that level.

Nonoperatively treated patients had significantly greater knee joint laxity at one year than reconstructed patients. Scores for four hop test limb symmetry indexes, the Activities of Daily Living section of the Knee Outcome Survey, and the International Knee Documentation Committee Subjective Knee Form were slightly but significantly better in the nonsurgical group.

The findings were e-published in September by The American Journal of Sports Medicine.


Grindem H, Eitzen I, Moksnes H, et al. A pair-matched comparison of return to pivoting sports at 1 year in anterior cruciate ligament-injured patients after a nonoperative versus an operative treatment course. Am J Sports Med 2012 Sep 7. [Epub ahead of print]

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