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ACL Surgery Linked To Improved Physical Health And Function

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Last week we reported on research which showed that, although surgery still may be the best option in many cases, young athletes face a higher than average risk of suffering further injury after undergoing surgery for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) damage.

More positive news has been published this week, with a new study finding that younger patients undergoing ACL surgery may benefit from significantly improved physical health and function for at least six years.

The research, published in the April issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery (JBJS), revealed that patients who had surgery to repair and rebuild an ACL tear showed significant improvement in physical function at two years, and this continued for at least six years following the procedure.

Among the strongest predictors of positive, long-term outcome were younger patient age, lower body mass index (BMI), and having the remnants of the torn ACL completely excised during surgery, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) said.

Predictors of worse post-operative outcomes included a shorter follow-up time after surgery, revision ACL reconstruction, smoking at baseline, fewer years of education, and damage to the cartilage under the knee cap (chondromalacia patella).

“We found that health related quality of life was significantly improved following ACL reconstruction, and this improvement was still present six years following surgery,” commented University of Wisconsin orthopaedic surgeon and lead study author Dr. Warren R. Dunn. “The predictors for good and poorer outcomes may be helpful when counselling patients who are considering ACL surgery.”