To perform a systematic review of contemporary studies reporting clinical outcomes of primary anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) repair to determine whether these studies demonstrate any significant benefit of ACL repair and whether there is evidence of a deterioration of mid-term outcomes as seen in historical data.
A systematic review was conducted in accordance with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses guidelines. A PubMed search using the keywords “repair” AND “Anterior Cruciate Ligament” was performed (limits: English language, publication date between January 1, 2014, and January 13, 2019). All identified studies reporting clinical outcomes of arthroscopic ACL repair were included. Critical appraisal was conducted using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool for Randomized Clinical Trials and the Methodological Index for Non-Randomized Studies. Basic parameters of each study including population characteristics, repair technique, physical examination findings, and clinical outcome scores were recorded and evaluated.
Nineteen eligible studies were identified (including 5 comparative studies). None of the comparative studies showed any significant difference between repair and reconstruction groups with respect to International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC), Lysholm, Tegner, side-to-side laxity difference, Lachman, pivot shift tests, or graft rupture rates. Four non-comparative studies reported outcomes at medium- to long-term follow up (range of mean follow up 43.3-79 months) with a mean Lysholm score between 85.3 and 100, mean IKDC subjective score between 87.3 and 100, and mean Tegner activity score between 5 and 7.
Comparative studies identified no significant differences between ACL repair and reconstruction with respect to Lysholm, IKDC, side-to-side laxity difference, pivot shift grade, or graft rupture rates. However, these studies had major limitations including small numbers and short durations of follow up. Case series demonstrated that excellent outcomes can be achieved at medium- to long-term follow up with the SAR technique.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:
IV; Systematic review of Level II to IV investigations.