Background: The purpose of this study was to further delineate the outcome of arthroscopically assisted anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in 125 patients who had previously been followed for two to five years. One of the original 125 patients was excluded from the present study because of insufficient follow-up, and an additional group of 101 patients was added. All 225 patients in the present study were followed for a minimum of six years.
Methods: Patients were randomly assigned to reconstruction with a double-stranded semitendinosus-gracilis graft with use of a two‐incision technique (group I), reconstruction with a patellar ligament graft with use of a two‐incision technique (group II), or reconstruction with a patellar ligament graft with use of a single‐incision endoscopic technique (group III). The groups were compared with regard to the rate of graft failure, the amount of instability, knee strength, radiographic signs of degenerative changes, and functional outcome.
Results: There was no significant difference among the three groups with regard to the rate of graft failure, the amount of knee instability, or the functional outcome. A normal or nearly normal functional outcome was recorded for 208 (92%) of the 225 patients. There were significant differences among the groups with regard to quadriceps muscle-strength deficits: group I had fewer patients with deficits than group III, and groups I and III both had fewer patients with deficits than group II (p = 0.04). There also were significant differences among the groups with regard to hamstring muscle-strength deficits: group III had fewer patients with deficits than group II, and group II had fewer patients with deficits than group I (p < 0.01). Twelve knees (16%) in group I, six knees (8%) in group II, and eight knees (11%) in group III showed radiographic evidence of progressive degenerative changes, but the differences among the three groups were not significant.
Conclusion: Although 11.6% of the 225 knees had radiographic evidence of degenerative arthritis at a minimum of six years after arthroscopically assisted reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament, the choice of graft and the technique of reconstruction did not seem to affect the rate of development of these changes.
Daniel B. O'Neill, MD; Christus St. John Sports Medicine Center, 18100 St. John Drive, Suite 300, Nassau Bay, TX 77058