A recently published study in the ESSKA journal "Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy", demonstrates that prior to surgery, there is no difference in the function of an ACL injured knee, either with or without cartilage damage.
To date, little is known about the long-term consequences of this knee injury.
A damaged anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) increases the risk of wear in the knee, resulting in pain and functional restriction.
It is, however, not known whether full thickness cartilage damage in the knee contributes to additional problems, if the ligament is reconstructed less than one year after the rupture.
This outcome will influence the decision of whether or not to operate on the cartilage injury, at this stage.
The Norwegian Cruciate Ligament Register was initiated at the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center in 2004. Data from the Registry were used to compare a group of patients with anterior cruciate ligament and cartilage injury, to a group of patients who had only their cruciate ligament ruptured.
A validated questionnaire (KOOS), which the patients filled out in connection with the ACL-reconstruction (knee surgery), was used to evaluate the knee function. The questionnaire contained specific questions evaluating pain, and selected functional activities.
At the time of surgery, results from the KOOS revealed no difference between the two groups.
Therefore, it is not likely that cartilage damage cause symptoms early in the course of ACL injuries. If the cartilage lesion is treated operatively at this point, it is done on the rationale of preventing further problems.
However, it is still unknown whether early cartilage damage after an ACL injury, causes wear, and aggravates knee problems with the passing of time. The patients in this study will therefore be followed further, to observe their results over an extended time period.
The study confirms that key clinical issues, such as how injured athletes are treated surgically, are additional reasons for maintaining an ACL registry.
This project was investigated by Vegar Hjermundrud, Tonje Kvist Bjune, May Arna Rissberg, Lars Engebretsen and Asbjørn Aarøen.
Read the paper in KSSTA.