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ACL surgery offers improved quality of life, study shows

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The most common surgical techniques used to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) offer patients improved quality of life, according to a new study.

Researchers compared ACL reconstruction using patellar tendon, hamstring tendon and double-bundle techniques in 315 patients who were randomly assigned one of the three surgical approaches.

They found that each surgical technique offers similar outcomes five years after injury, although re-injury rates were higher for patients who had hamstring tendon and double-bundle procedures.

In younger active patients, the re-injury rates approached 30%.

“Our main focus should be to prevent these injuries,” said corresponding author Dr Nicholas Mohtadi, from the University of Calgary Sport Medicine Centre.

A separate study took a longer term look at outcomes after ACL repair and found that patients were able to perform sports-related functions and maintain a high knee-related quality of life a decade after surgery.

“An active patient may view an ACL injury as devastating, but our research adds to short- and long-term studies that show a good prognosis for return to pre-injury quality of life,” said corresponding author Dr Kurt P. Spindler, from the Cleveland Clinic Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. “This can help medical providers continue to make good treatment decisions, and present these injuries as simply a setback.”

Factors that were associated with lower outcome scores within the study population included lower baseline scores (prior to surgery), a higher body mass index, smoking, and a history of meniscus surgery.

The findings of both studies were presented at last week’s annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine in Toronto, Canada.