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2nd Knee Surgery Common Among Young Patients

WEDNESDAY Oct. 7, 2009 -- Younger people will probably need additional surgery after they've had damage to an anterior cruciate ligament repaired, a new study has found.

Women face a similar likelihood after damaging what's commonly called an ACL.

ACL damage is one of the most common types of knee injuries.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 70,000 people in New York who had ACL reconstruction surgery from 1997 to 2006. They found that people younger than 20 had an 82 percent increased risk for additional ACL surgery.

The younger people are when the initial ACL surgery is performed, the more likely they are to need additional surgery within one year, the study found.

"We believe that younger patients may be at a higher risk for additional ACL surgery because they tend to be more active, and this can lead to graft rupture," study author Stephen Lyman, director of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, said in a news release from the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. The findings are in the journal's October issue.

Younger people may also be less likely to obey restrictions on doing high-impact activities, he said.

People 20 to 29 years old had a 43 percent increased risk, and those 30 to 39 years old had a 19 percent increased risk, the study noted.

The researchers also found that female patients were 18 percent more likely than male patients to require subsequent knee surgery, as were people treated by so-called "lower-volume" surgeons (those who perform fewer than six ACL operations a year) and at lower-volume hospitals (fewer than 24 ACL cases a year).

"This trend has also been demonstrated in other surgical disciplines, including cardiac and cancer surgery," study co-author Dr. Robert Marx, a professor of orthopedic surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery, said in the news release. "ACL reconstruction is not an easy operation for someone who does not do it on a regular basis. Patients may wish to consider this information if they elect to undergo ACL reconstruction."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more about knee problems.

Posted: October 2009


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