Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are the most common ligament injury in the United States. These injuries can be career ending for athletes and severely disabling for all individuals. Our objectives are to review the epidemiology of these injuries, as well as ACL biomechanics, anatomy, and nonsurgical and surgical management so that generalists as well as sports medicine physicians, orthopedists, and others will have a better understanding of this serious injury as well as choices in its management.
PubMed was used to identify relevant articles. These articles were then used to identify other sources.
Anterior cruciate ligament injuries occur more commonly in women than in men due to a variety of anatomical factors. The ACL consists of 2 major bundles, the posterolateral and the anteromedial bundles. Forces transmitted through these bundles vary with knee-joint position. Some patients with ACL injuries may not be candidates for surgery because of serious comorbid medical conditions. However, without surgical repair, the knee generally remains unstable and prone to further injury. There are a variety of surgical decisions that can influence outcomes. Single-bundle versus double-bundle repair, whether to leave the ruptured ACL remnant in the knee, the selection of the graft tissue, graft placement, and whether to use the transtibial, far anteromedial portal, or tibial tunnel–independent technique are choices that must be made.
With a sound knowledge of the anatomy and kinetics of the knee, newer improved surgical techniques have been developed that can restore proper knee function and have allowed many athletes to resume their careers. These new techniques have also limited the disability in nonathletes.