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Risk Of Re-Injury After ACL Surgery Highest Among Young Athletes

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The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) can be damaged by a sudden twisting of the knee during sports or a fall. Depending on the severity of the injury, surgery may be advised in order to mend a tear in the meniscus or to reconstruct the ruptured ligament.

This is a straightforward procedure, but young athletes face a higher than average risk of suffering further injury after undergoing ACL surgery, according to research presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine´s (AOSSM) recent Specialty Day.

The study focused specifically on the long-term success of surgery for young athletes aged 18 years and younger. It revealed that one in three patients experienced re-injury.

“We examined survey data from 242 patients who underwent ACL reconstruction between 1993 and 1998,” explained lead author Justin P. Roe, MBBS, FRACS, from North Sydney Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Centre.

Of all patients involved in the study, 75, or 31%, sustained a further knee injury after at least 15 years.

“Our study shows that young knees are more prone to re-injury than the adult population when compared to other research in this area – and is the first study to examine the incidence and risk factors for further ACL injury in a solely juvenile population over the long-term,” commented Roe. “While surgery still may be the best option for many ACL injuries, it brings to light the important factors physicians must consider when treating the younger population.”

A total of 104 females and 138 males took part in the study. They participated in a variety of sports, but almost half of them (48%) named rugby or soccer (football) as their sport of choice.

Following surgery, 168 (69%) reported returning to their pre-injury level of activity.