Influence of operative technique on anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in patients older than 50 years

  • Ode Quentin
  • Gonzalez Jean-François
  • Paihle Régis
  • Dejour David
  • Ollivier Matthieu
  • Panisset Jean-Claude
  • Lustig Sebastien

  • Tegner Activity Score
  • KOOS
  • Operative technique
  • Anterior cruciate ligamen
  • 50 years of age
  • Differential laxity


Background: A consequence of the steady growth in the worldwide population of elderly individuals who remain in good health and continue to engage in sports is an increase in the incidence of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture occurring after 50 years of age. ACL reconstruction was formerly reserved for young athletes but now seems to produce good outcomes in over 50s. The type of graft and graft fixation method were selected empirically until now, given the absence of investigations into potential relationships of these two parameters with the outcomes. The objective of this study was to assess associations linking the type of graft and the method of femoral graft fixation to outcomes in patients older than 50 years at ACL reconstruction. Hypothesis: The operative technique is not associated with the clinical outcomes or differential laxity. Material and methods: A multicentre retrospective cohort of 398 patients operated between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2015 and a multicentre prospective cohort of 228 patients operated between 1 January 2016 and 30 June 2017 were conducted. Mean follow-up was 42.7 months in the retrospective cohort and 14.2 months in the prospective cohort. The primary evaluation criterion was the clinical outcome as assessed using the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) and the Tegner Activity Score (TAS). Differential laxity was the secondary evaluation criterion. The Wilcoxon rank sum test and Kruskal-Wallis test were used to compare groups, and p-values < 0.05 were considered significant. Results: In the retrospective and prospective cohorts, hamstring tendons were used in 269 (67.6%) and 197 (86.4%) patients and extensor apparatus tendons in 124 (31.2%) and 31 (13.6%) patients. Femoral fixation in the retrospective cohort was cortical in 81 (20.4%) cases, by press-fit in 112 (28.1%) cases, and by interference screw in 205 (51.5%) cases; corresponding figures in the prospective cohort were 135 (59.2%), 17 (7.5%), and 76 (33.3%). The multivariate analysis of the retrospective data identified no significant associations of graft type or femoral fixation type with the KOOS, TAS, or differential laxity values. In the prospective cohort, hamstring grafts were associated with 0.6 mm of additional laxity (p = 0.007); compared to cortical fixation, press-fit fixation of patellar tendon grafts was associated with 0.3 mm of additional laxity (p = 0.029) and a 0.5-point lower TAS value (p = 0.033), with no difference in KOOS values. None of these differences were clinically significant. Discussion: The various ACL reconstruction techniques used in patients older than 50 years produce similar outcomes. The technique can be chosen based on surgeon preference without regard for patient age. Level of evidence: IV.