In patients aged over 50 years, although data are sparse, results of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery are good if selection is correctly performed. However, non-operative treatment is usually proposed for this age group, as patients generally prefer just to scale down their sports activities. Non-operative results are acceptable, but with a high risk of residual instability, secondary lesions and lifestyle alteration. The main aim of the present study was to compare results between surgical versus non-surgical treatment of ACL tear in over-50 year-olds. Secondary objectives comprised assessing prognostic factors for poor functional outcome, and comparing the 2 groups epidemiologically to identify clinical decision-making factors. The study hypothesis was that results are comparable between operative and non-operative treatment of ACL tear.
320 patients were followed up prospectively: 92 non-surgical (NS group) and 288 surgical (S group). Classical epidemiological data were collected. Clinical laxity, differential laximetry, KOOS, IKDC, Tegner and ACL-RSI scores and radiologic assessment were collected pre- and post-operatively, as were intraoperative data. Early and late complications were collected.
All patients were followed up. Patients were principally female, and were older, less athletic, with more stable knee and less severe functional impact in the NS group. Functional scores improved in both groups, and especially in group S, where sports scores were also better. In the NS group, laximetry at follow-up correlated with preoperative marked pivot-shift (p=0.024). Severe differential laxity was predictive of poor IKDC score (p=0.06). In the S group, laximetry at follow-up correlated with preoperative explosive pivot-shift (p<0.001), lateral meniscal lesion (p=0.007), use of hamstring tendon (p=0.007), and non-operated early complications (p=0.004). Factors for poor global KOOS score in group S comprised female gender (p<0.001), high BMI (p<0.001) and skiing (p=0.038). Factors for poor Tegner scores comprised skiing or team sport (p<0.05), isolated moderate medial osteoarthritis (p=0.01), and non-operated early complications (p=0.022). Factors for poor IKDC score comprised female gender (p=0.064), and non-operated early complications (p=0.019). Complications did not differ between groups.
Results were satisfactory in both groups, with significant improvement in functional scores, but were better in group S. For NS patients, pivot sport was barely feasible and sports activity scores decreased. In case of severe laxity at diagnosis, surgical treatment should be proposed.
III; non-randomized prospective comparative series.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.