Early Surgical Reconstruction of ACL After Tear Yields Better results Study Finds

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early ACL repair

A new study has revealed that early surgical reconstruction of ACL after a tear produces better results. This is promising news for athletes who are at an increased risk of developing the injury.

ACL tears can be extremely painful and greatly limit mobility depending upon the severity of the injury. Here, we will look at what the latest study found and how it could impact patients.

Understanding the recent study into ACL repair

The recent study aimed to discover whether surgical ACL repair for a ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) improved the outcome. The researchers recruited 167 patients aged 18-65 who had an acute complete primary ACL rupture. It included patients from around the globe and they were randomised into two groups.

One group were provided with early ACL repair, while the others underwent delayed treatment. In the early treatment group, ACL arthroscopic reconstruction was carried out within six weeks. The surgeons each had over 10 years’ experience and the patients were referred to physiotherapy after the procedure.

The second group attended physiotherapy first for a minimum period of three months. After that time, patients could choose whether to undergo the surgery. Around 50% of these patients did opt for the surgery around 10.6 months on average after they started the trial.

It was discovered that both groups saw improved International Knee Documentation scores within two years. However, those who underwent earlier surgical treatment were found to have greater improvements overall. Specifically, they could return to sport earlier than those who underwent delayed treatment.

What is an ACL rupture?

An ACL rupture is a serious musculoskeletal injury, particularly common in athletes and those who lead a more active lifestyle. Without treatment, it can lead to damage of other structures of the knee.

ACL ruptures tend to mostly occur through high-impact sports. Coming to an abrupt stop and quickly changing directions can both lead to a rupture of the ACL. However, the injury can also occur in anyone of any age due to a bad fall or accident.

Symptoms of an ACL rupture include:

  • Hearing a popping sound
    • Swelling
    • Pain
    • Locking of the knee
    • Knee gives way when it bears weight
    • Knee instability

These are the most common symptoms to watch out for.

Treatment options for an ACL tear

If an ACL rupture is diagnosed, you will more than likely need to undergo surgery. As the latest study shows, the faster you undergo surgical intervention, the better the outcome.
The procedure is typically carried out under general anaesthetic, with patients released from hospital the next day. A graft will be taken from the hamstring tendons, before a small hole is drilled through the tibia and femur. The new tendon is inserted through the hole, before being secured with various devices.

Once surgery has been carried out, you will need to attend physiotherapy. This will help to reduce pain, improve your range of motion, and improve your overall results.

If you suspect that you have a rupture of the ACL, book a consultation today. The earlier you seek treatment, the better the outcome will be.