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Non-crucial anterior cruciate ligament repair

PainSci » bibliography » Frobell et al 2010
updated
Tags: treatment, knee, patellar pain, surgery, leg, limbs, pain problems, arthritis, aging, overuse injury, injury, running, exercise, self-treatment

PainSci notes on Frobell 2010:

Surprisingly, it’s not clear if a torn anterior cruciate ligament should be surgically repaired. In this randomized, controlled study of 121 young adults with acute ACL injury, there was little difference between getting reconstructive surgery right away and just doing normal rehabilitation. Given the structural importance of the ACL ligament, it’s amazing that it can recover from major trauma without surgery approximately as well as it can with. This study did not show that ACL repair is never or rarely necessary, but it certainly strongly suggests that it’s less crucial than most people would expect.

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

BACKGROUND: The optimal management of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee is unknown.

METHODS: We conducted a randomized, controlled trial involving 121 young, active adults with acute ACL injury in which we compared two strategies: structured rehabilitation plus early ACL reconstruction and structured rehabilitation with the option of later ACL reconstruction if needed. The primary outcome was the change from baseline to 2 years in the average score on four subscales of the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS)--pain, symptoms, function in sports and recreation, and knee-related quality of life (KOOS(4); range of scores, 0 [worst] to 100 [best]). Secondary outcomes included results on all five KOOS subscales, the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey, and the score on the Tegner Activity Scale.

RESULTS: Of 62 subjects assigned to rehabilitation plus early ACL reconstruction, 1 did not undergo surgery. Of 59 assigned to rehabilitation plus optional delayed ACL reconstruction, 23 underwent delayed ACL reconstruction; the other 36 underwent rehabilitation alone. The absolute change in the mean KOOS(4) score from baseline to 2 years was 39.2 points for those assigned to rehabilitation plus early ACL reconstruction and 39.4 for those assigned to rehabilitation plus optional delayed reconstruction (absolute between-group difference, 0.2 points; 95% confidence interval, -6.5 to 6.8; P=0.96 after adjustment for the baseline score). There were no significant differences between the two treatment groups with respect to secondary outcomes. Adverse events were common in both groups. The results were similar when the data were analyzed according to the treatment actually received.

CONCLUSIONS: In young, active adults with acute ACL tears, a strategy of rehabilitation plus early ACL reconstruction was not superior to a strategy of rehabilitation plus optional delayed ACL reconstruction. The latter strategy substantially reduced the frequency of surgical reconstructions. (Funded by the Swedish Research Council and the Medical Faculty of Lund University and others; Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN84752559.)

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