Pediatric orthopaedic surgeons report in a new study that delaying reconstructive surgery for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries may increase the risk of further injury. Surgeons add that if the surgery occurs later than 12 weeks following injury, the injury may be irreparable.

According to a recent news release, the study encompassed 70 patients, aged 14 years and under with ACL injuries at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia between the year 1995 and the year 2005. The study reports that 29 study participants who underwent reconstructive surgery more than 12 weeks from the time of injury, exhibited serious irreversible injuries, such as medial meniscus tears that could not be repaired.

Todd Lawrence, MD, PhD, orthopaedic surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, led the study and acknowledges that while the treatment of ACL injuries in children is controversial as they are still growing, “We found that the risk of additional injury outweighs the risk of growth disturbance in most children,” Lawrence emphasizes.

“We’ve developed surgical techniques to avoid the growth plates in the knee but looking forward for each patient we still think about onset of arthritis within the next 20 years in the affected knee of young children with a complete tear of their ACL,” Ted Ganley, MD, senior study author explains. Ganley adds that further research may provide a greater degree of knowledge crucial in making informed decisions about the care for children and young adults with ACL injuries.

Source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia