Anatomic ACL reconstruction reduces risk of post-traumatic osteoarthritis: a systematic review with minimum 10-year follow-up Academic Article uri icon

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  • PURPOSE: To systematically review the literature for radiographic prevalence of osteoarthritis (OA) at a minimum of 10 years following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction (ACLR) with anatomic vs. non-anatomic techniques. It was hypothesized that the incidence of OA at long-term follow-up would be lower following anatomic compared to non-anatomic ACLR. METHODS: A systematic review was performed by searching PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library, for studies reporting OA prevalence by radiographic classification scales at a minimum of 10 years following ACLR with autograft. Studies were categorized as anatomic if they met or exceeded a score of 8 according the Anatomic ACL Reconstruction Scoring Checklist (AARSC), while those with a score less than 8 were categorized as non-anatomic/non-specified. Secondary outcomes included graft failure and measures of knee stability (KT-1000, Pivot Shift) and functional outcomes [Lysholm, Tegner, subjective and objective International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) scores]. OA prevalence on all radiographic scales was recorded and adapted to a normalized scale. RESULTS: Twenty-six studies were included, of which 5 achieved a score of 8 on the AARSC. Using a normalized OA classification scale, 87 of 375 patients (23.2%) had diagnosed OA at a mean follow-up of 15.3 years after anatomic ACLR and 744 of 1696 patients (43.9%) had OA at mean follow-up of 15.9 years after non-anatomic/non-specified ACLR. The AARSC scores were 9.2 ± 1.3 for anatomic ACLR and 5.1 ± 1.1 for non-anatomic/non-specified ACLR. Secondary outcomes were relatively similar between techniques but inconsistently reported. CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that anatomic ACLR, defined as an AARSC score ≥ 8, was associated with lower OA prevalence at long-term follow-up. Additional studies reporting long-term outcomes following anatomic ACLR are needed, as high-level studies of anatomic ACLR are lacking. The AARSC is a valuable resource in performing and evaluating anatomic ACLR. Anatomic ACLR, as defined by the AARSC, may reduce the long-term risk of post-traumatic OA following ACL injury to a greater extent than non-anatomic ACLR. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: IV.


  • Rothrauff, Benjamin B
  • Jorge, Ahmed
  • de SA, Darren
  • Kay, Jeffrey
  • Fu, Freddie H
  • Musahl, Volker

publication date

  • April 2020