This is the editor's interpretation of a paper published in the orthopaedic literature in 2010 - our attempt to make relevant medical articles accessible to lay readers. If you want to read the original it is easy to ask your librarian to obtain a reprint for you from any medical library.
In this paper the authors report their findings in 181 patients that were studied over a long time, and who had suffered anterior cruciate (ACL) injury, and also ACL injury combined with damage to any of the meniscus, joint cartilage or medial collateral ligamenet (MCL). All had bone-patellar tendon-bone (B-PT-B) autografts, that is their own patellar tendon was harvested and used to reconstruct the ACL.
Of the 181 patients, 38% had isolated ACL tears, while the other 62% had ACL tears combined with other structural damage. After ACL reconstruction there was a significantly improved function in both groups, but radiographic (eg X-ray) analysis showed a higher incidence of osteoarthritis (OA) in the group where the ACL tear was combined with other injury (80% as compared with 62%), although in terms of symptoms the two groups fared the same.
The final conclusion of the authors was that after ACL reconstruction patients at the 10-year mark seemed to have good, but not normal, knee function.