The present study aimed to evaluate the association between elapsed time from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury to surgical treatment and the incidence of meniscal tears in a cohort of patients ≤16 years old with varus-aligned and non-varus-aligned knees.
The study cohort included 123 patients ≤16 years old who underwent primary ACL reconstruction between January 2016 and March 2020. Knee alignment was expressed as the hip-knee-ankle angle (HKAA), as measured preoperatively on an anteroposterior view of 3-dimensional computed tomography of the full length of the lower limb. Varus alignment was defined as an HKAA ≥181.0°, and non-varus alignment was defined as an HKAA <181.0°. Patients were divided into groups according to knee alignment and the elapsed time from injury to surgical treatment: early-treatment group (<60 days) and delayed-treatment group (≥60 days).
A total of 64 varus-aligned and 59 non-varus-aligned knees were identified. Among patients with varus-aligned knees, those in the delayed-treatment group showed a significantly lower rate of lateral meniscal tears (6 of 30, 20%) compared with those in the early-treatment group (17 of 34, 50%; p = 0.015). Among patients with non-varus-aligned knees, there was no significant difference in meniscal tears of any type between the early and delayed-treatment groups. Among patients without medial meniscal injury identified on initial magnetic resonance imaging, those with varus-aligned knees in the delayed-treatment group showed a significantly higher rate of medial meniscal tears at the time of the surgical procedure (8 of 20, 40%) compared with those with non-varus-aligned knees (1 of 18, 6%; p = 0.015).
Delayed ACL reconstruction in patients ≤16 years old with varus-aligned knees might be associated with an increased incidence of secondary medial meniscal tears. Accordingly, earlier ACL reconstruction in patients with varus-aligned knees should be considered.
Level of Evidence:
Prognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.