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Surgery for ACL tear often successful over long term

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(HealthDay News) -- People who undergo knee surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) can expect to stay active and maintain a high quality of life, researchers report.

Activity levels may decline over time, but a new study found that those who had the knee operation could usually still play sports 10 years later.

"An active patient may view an ACL injury as devastating, but our research adds to short- and long-term studies that show a good prognosis for return to pre-injury quality of life," said the study's corresponding author, Dr. Kurt Spindler.

Spindler, from the Cleveland Clinic department of orthopaedic surgery, added that these findings could help medical providers continue to make good treatment decisions.

The study also confirms that these injuries are typically just a setback, he said in a news release from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM).

The ACL is a band that connects the thighbone to the main bone in the lower leg and holds the knee joint. If the knee twists or extends too far, this ligament can tear.

The study involved people who had ACL reconstruction in one knee between 2002 and 2004. Of these patients, 90 percent were having their first surgery and 10 percent were having a follow-up reconstruction procedure. The investigators followed more than 1,300 patients (83 percent of the original study group) for a decade.

The researchers noted that being overweight, smoking or having a history of other knee surgery negatively influenced the long-term outcomes of ACL surgery.

The study findings were scheduled for presentation Friday at the annual meeting of the AOSSM in Toronto. Findings presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about ACL injury.

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