Knee stiffness following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: The incidence and associated factors of knee stiffness following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

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    ACL reconstructionStiffness

    retrcidg the contra-lateral leg as a control. The median delay between injury and

    operation was 15 months.

    anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructions between Septem-

    The Knee 16 (2009) 245247

    Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

    The Keach of these studies, and in others[4,5], post-operative stiffness is oneof themost common complications encountered[2,4]. The incidence ofmotion loss varies from 4% to 38%, depending on the denition used todene the presence of stiffness[2,6]. Several risk factors have beenidentied which are associated with this complication. These includemultiple-ligament injuries[7,8], insufcient delay between injury andsurgery[8], poor pre-operative range of motion[9], and poor compli-ance with post-operative rehabilitation[10].

    A successful recovery is usually considered to be associated withrestoration of a full range of motionwithin 3months[2,11]. A degree ofpost-operative stiffness can be tolerated but extension loss of 5 andabove or exion loss of 15s and above will be unacceptable to most

    ber 2004 and June 2006. All procedures had been performed by thesenior author. All patients had a minimum of 12 months follow-up toallow an adequate period of time elapse to detect stiffness andresponse to treatment. Of the 100 patients who underwent ACLreconstruction, 80 were male and 20 were female. The mean age ofthe cohort at reconstructionwas 30 years (range, 16 to 69 years). Theinjury was caused by football in 47 patients, rugby in 13, skiing ineight, and other sports accounted for 19 cases. Motorbike accidentsaccounted for six. Three of the injuries were work-related, and fourwere sustained as a result of falls under the inuence of alcohol.

    All of the patients underwent primary isolated reconstructions oftheACL and allwith quadruple hamstring autografts. Forty-six patientspatients[12].The aims of this studywere to dene the in

    following ACL reconstruction and to determiwere associated with this.

    Corresponding author. Tel.: +38 0131 242 3436; faxE-mail address: (J.F. Keating).

    0968-0160/$ see front matter 2008 Elsevier B.V. Adoi:10.1016/j.knee.2008.12.014struction have reportedal knee function[13]. In

    We reviewed the records of 100 consecutive patients undergoingSeveral long term studies of the ACL reconsuccess rates of 75% to 94% in restoring norm1. Introductionphysiotherapy (pb0.005) and previous knee surgery (pb0.005) were the strongest predictors of the stiffness.Anterior knee pain was also associated with the stiffness (pb0.029). Factors that failed to show a signicantassociation with the stiffness included associated MCL sprain at injury (p=0.32), post-injury stiffness(p=1.00) and concomitant menisectomy at reconstruction (p=0.54). Timing of surgery also did not appearto inuence the onset of stiffness (median delays: 29 months for stiff patients; 14 months for non-stiffpatients). The rate of stiffness fell to 5% at 12 months postreconstruction, without operative intervention.

    2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

    2. Materials and methodsKeywords:

    The incidence of stiffness was 12% at 6 months post-reconstruction. Both incomplete attendance atReceived in revised form 16 December 2008Accepted 18 December 2008

    as any loss of motion usinKnee stiffness following anterior cruciateThe incidence and associated factors of kcruciate ligament reconstruction

    G.A.J. Robertson a, S.G.S. Coleman b, J.F. Keating c,a The Edinburgh Orthopaedic Trauma Unit, The Royal Inrmary of Edinburgh, 51 Little Frab PESLS Department, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdomc Department of Orthopaedic Trauma, Royal Inrmary of Edinburgh, Little France, Old Dal

    a b s t r a c ta r t i c l e i n f o

    Article history:Received 7 July 2008

    We reviewed 100 patientsautografts to evaluate the incidence of knee stiffnessne which patient factors

    : +38 0131 242 3467.

    ll rights reserved.gament reconstructione stiffness following anterior

    Crescent, Old Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh EH16 4SA, United Kingdom

    Road, Edinburgh EH16 4SU, United Kingdom

    ospectively following primary ACL reconstruction with quadruple hamstringence and factors associated with postoperative stiffness. Stiffness was dened

    neeunderwent menisectomy at the time of the ACL reconstruction andwere also considered suitable for inclusion (see Table 1). The mediandelay between injury and surgery was 15 months (range, 5 to300 months). There were no acute reconstructions within this cohort.For the purpose of this study, a full range ofmotion (ROM)was denedas achieving a ROM equal to the contra-lateral leg. Relevant pre-operative information, including the mechanism of injury, associatedmedial collateral sprain with injury and a history of stiffness at six

  • 246 G.A.J. Robertson et al. / The Knee 16 (2009) 245247weeks post-injury, was recorded. All knees had been restored to a non-inamed, fullymobile state prior to surgery. Patientswithmore than5loss to full extension and less than 120 of knee exion six weeks post-injury were considered to have a history of stiffness.

    2.1. Surgical ndings and technique

    All ACL reconstructions were performed with an arthroscopic-assisted single incision technique. Reconstructions used a quad-ruple gracilis and semitendinosis hamstring autograft, xed to thefemur using an endo button and to the tibia using a bioresorbable

    Table 1ACL reconstructions details

    ACL cohort(n=100)

    Stiff cohort(n=12)

    Non Stiff Cohort(n=88)

    Patient detailsMean age at reconstruction (years) 30 32 30Male 80 (80%) 9 (75%) 71 (81%)Female 20 (20%) 3 (25%) 17 (19%)

    Patient historyMCL sprain with injury 29 (29%) 5 (42%) 24 (27%)Previous knee surgery 23 (23%) 7 (58%) 16 (18%)6-week post-injury stiffness 32 (32%) 5 (42%) 27 (31%)Median surgical delay (months) 15 29 14

    Surgical ndingsMedial meniscal tear 36 (36%) 6 (50%) 30 (34%)Lateral meniscal tear 27 (27%) 2 (17%) 25 (28%)Chondral changes 36 (36%) 4 (33%) 32 (36%)

    Surgical techniqueConcomitant meniscal surgery 46 (46%) 4 (33%) 42 (48%)

    ComplicationsAnterior knee pain 17 (17%) 5 (42%) 12 (14%)Patello-femoral problems 5 (5%) 2 (17%) 3 (3%)Incomplete attendance at physio. 17 (17%) 6 (50%) 11(13%)

    =pb0.05, stiff cohort versus non-stiff cohort.soft tissue interference screw (DePuy Mitek Intrax Screw. St.Anthonys Road, Beeston, Leeds, LS11 8DT). Prior to each recon-struction, an arthroscopy of the knee was carried out and thepathological ndings, including meniscal tears and chondral lesionswere noted in the surgical records. Ligament debridement andnotchplasty were carried out in each case prior to graft insertion.Care was taken to position tunnels correctly. At the end of theprocedure a careful assessment of knee range of motion was made,in particular to identify any evidence of graft impingement on theintercondylar notch. Post-operatively, each patient remained in acanvas splint (Actimove Genu Eco. BSN Medical Ltd., Briereld,BB9 5NJ, England) for 7 to 10 days until the initial pain and swellinghad settled. Patients were allowed to weight bear as soon aspossible after surgery.

    Physiotherapywas commencedwithin 7 days of surgery. Patientsattended twice a week for one-to-one supervised physiotherapy forthe rst 4 weeks. Following this, patients received group phy-siotherapy twice a week in a knee class for patients rehabilitatingfrom knee ligament reconstruction surgery. This continued for4 months post-operatively. Following this, the requirement forfurther rehabilitationwas determined on an individual patient basisdepending on progress. The aim within the rst 2 weeks was torestore full extension and 90 of knee exion. Closed kinetic chainexercises were allowed between weeks two and six with the aim ofstrengthening knee muscles and increasing the range of exion to120. Open chain exercises were introduced at 6 weeks with the goalof full restoration of knee motion by 3 months. The rehabilitationprogramme was varied depending on individual patient needs.2.2. Post-operative progress and complications

    Patients were reviewed at a specialist knee clinic at 2, 6, 12 and26 weeks after surgery, with further appointments if required. At eachclinic appointment, any clinical complications were noted and ROMrecorded. Compliance with the post-operative rehabilitation pro-gramme was recorded by the physiotherapist. The ROM was assessedby the senior author using a goniometer and using the contra-lateralleg as a control to take account for normal variations in the degree ofexion and hyperextension for each patient. Losses to extension andexion were noted separately.

    The aim of the rehabilitation programme was to restore afunctional ROM to the knee by 6 weeks post-operatively. This isdened as a loss of extension of less than 5 and a range of exion of atleast 110. This range of motion is compatible with performing allroutine activities of daily living. Thus if a patient had failed to regaineither of these requirements at this stage, they were considered tohave short term stiffness. A patient who had failed to regain full ROMby 6 months post-reconstruction was then considered to have longterm stiffness. Patients were considered for arthrolysis and/or MUA ifthe range of motion remained less than the range of 5 to 140between 4 and 6 months post-operatively.

    2.3. Analysis

    A univariate analysis of categorical variables considered likely toinuence stiffness was rst performed using the Chi Squared Test(with Fishers exact test as required). A binarymulti logistic regressionwas then performed using variables identied as signicant onunivariate analysis to determine how signicant these factors wereas predictors of long term stiffness.

    3. Results

    3.1. Stiffness after ACL reconstruction