Treatment delay of ACL tear may not be advisable for young athletes

February 14, 2012

Topic: knee doctors

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Children who undergo reconstructive surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) more than 150 days after a sports injury may be more vulnerable to other knee injuries, as reported at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's Specialty Day. This finding suggests that athletes and their parents should consult knee doctors right away.

A team of researchers reviewed the medical records of 370 individuals who underwent ACL reconstruction. Injuries were related to sports such as football, basketball and soccer.

"In our research, children who had delayed treatment of an ACL injury more than 150 days, tended to have an increased chance of also having a medial meniscus or chondral injury in their knee. These additional injuries may increase recovery time, inhibit return to play, and worsen long term functional outcomes of the knee," said lead researcher Guillaume D. Dumont, M.D.

The researchers believe that their study may be relevant in discussions about the timing of treatment following an injury.

"Based on this research, it is clear that children with ACL injuries need to be evaluated promptly," said Roger V. Ostrander, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. "Historically, surgeons would delay surgery until the child reached skeletal maturity. However, the current trend is for early knee reconstruction to prevent irreversible changes."

Other study results showed that higher rates of additional knee injuries tended to take place in subjects who were heavier than 143 pounds and older than 15 years of age. Gender and type of sport did not appear to be associated with higher rates of these injuries.

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