The value of conservative treatment in ruptures of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)

Strehl, Alexander; Eggli, Stefan (2007). The value of conservative treatment in ruptures of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Journal of trauma - injury, infection, and critical care, 62(5), pp. 1159-62. Baltimore, Md.: Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins 10.1097/TA.0b013e31805006e7

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BACKGROUND: Thirty-eight of the 73 consecutive acute ruptures of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) proven by a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) in skeletally mature patients (16-55 years old) were classified as suitable for primarily conservative treatment. Patient selection was performed using a preoperative screening protocol based on the structural damage, clinical symptoms, compliance, sportive activity, and the consent of a well-informed patient. METHODS: In 12 of the 38 treated patients, the conservative protocol showed a good to very good outcome, 2 patients had persistent giving-way and were considering ACL reconstruction, 14 patients had a secondary ACL reconstruction in our clinic (average 5.3 months after injury), 9 patients were operated on in other hospitals (average 13.3 months after injury), and 1 patient was lost to follow-up. RESULTS: All patients with successful conservative treatment were able to perform low-risk pivoting sports and two patients are practicing high-risk pivoting sports. The average International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) score was 92.5 (82.8-98.9); the subjective overall knee function was 93% (60% to 100%). Of the 12 patients with good and very good results, 6 continued playing the same sports at an unreduced intensity, 4 patients reduced their activities slightly, and 1 patient played more sports than before. CONCLUSIONS: Although the authors performed a preoperative screening to select patients suitable for conservative treatment, almost two-thirds of the primarily conservatively treated ACL ruptures needed an operative reconstruction in the long term. In one-third of the patients, conservative treatment led to a good or very good result. At the endpoint of the study only 12 (16%) of a total of 73 patients with acute injuries of the ACL had successful conservative treatment. Therefore, patients must be comprehensively instructed about the treatment program and the chances of success of conservative ACL treatment.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Orthopaedic, Plastic and Hand Surgery (DOPH) > Clinic of Orthopaedic Surgery

UniBE Contributor:

Eggli, Stefan






Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins




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Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:57

Last Modified:

24 Oct 2019 08:52

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URI: (FactScience: 50766)

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