February 23, 2011

Better Method for ACL Knee Reconstruction

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Patients who receive anterior curciate ligament (ACL) knee reconstruction with a hamstring tendon graft instead of a knee tendon graft were less likely to suffer from pain and mobility, according to a new study.

"While we have seen excellent results in terms of knee symptoms and function with both graft types, comparing the two definitely showed differences," Leo Pinczewski, MD, lead researcher and surgeon with the North Sydney Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center in Wollstonecraft, Australia, was quoted as saying. "Patients with a hamstring graft reported less knee pain and discomfort and demonstrated a higher activity level."

Surgeons who perform ACL graft surgeries aim for the patients to have a quick recovery and eliminate instability. These procedures are commonly performed, especially in young athletes.

This study adds to Pinczewski's most recent work looking at the overall success rate of ACL knee reconstruction in athletes after 15 years. "We know that these surgeries work, but this information helps us determine which approaches can be most effective. Getting athletes back on the field is certainly important, but long term success rates are crucial as well," said Pinczewski.

The study followed 180 knee reconstruction patients, with 90 (48 men and 42 women between the ages of 15-42 years) receiving a patellar tendon (PT) graft and the other 90 (47 men and 43 women between the ages of 13-52 years) receiving a hamstring tendon (HT) graft. After 15 years, 80 percent of the PT group and 73 percent of the HT group were assessed based on their symptoms of pain, swelling and knee mobility.

The HT group showed significant improvement with 77 percent performing at least strenuous activities, compared to 62 percent being able to perform strenuous activity in the PT group. In evaluating pain when kneeling, 42 percent of the PT group patients reported moderate or greater pain, while 26 percent of the HT group reported pain. The PT group also showed worse outcomes in tests for motion loss and osteoarthritis.

SOURCE: American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's Specialty Day held in San Diego, California from February 15-19, 2011