Most people who suffer an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury search for information online.
Summarise the proportion of webpages on ACL rupture management that present evidence-based information.
Content analysis.
We examined webpage information on ACL ruptures identified through (1) Google searches using terms synonymous with ‘anterior cruciate ligament rupture’ and searching ‘knee surgeon’ linked to each Australian capital city, and (2) websites of professional associations. The primary outcome was the proportion of webpages that suggest people can return to at least some form of sport with non-surgical management. Secondary outcomes included webpage information on return to sport with ACL reconstruction (ACLR) and non-surgical management, benefits, harms, and risk of osteoarthritis related to these options, and activity modification.
Out of 115 webpages analysed, 48% suggested people can return to at least some form of sport with non-surgical management. Almost half of webpages suggested most people will return to some form of sport following ACLR (41%) and mentioned benefits of ACLR (43%). Fewer webpages mentioned benefits of non-surgical management (14%), approximately two in three people return to pre-injury level of sport following ACLR (4%), risk of re-injury following ACLR (23%), most people return to sport within 9 months of ACLR (27%), activity modification as a management approach (20%), and ACLR will reduce the risk of osteoarthritis (23%).
Most online information on ACL rupture management isn’t aligned with the best available evidence. Inaccurate information could mislead patients’ treatment choices and create unrealistic expectations for return to sport.

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