Return to sport in the younger patient with anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction Academic Article uri icon


  • Although anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction is generally regarded as a successful procedure, only 65% of patients return to their preinjury sport. While return-to-sport rates are likely higher in younger patients, there is a paucity of data that focus on the younger patient and their return-to-sport experience after ACL reconstruction.To investigate a range of return-to-sport outcomes in younger athletes who had undergone ACL reconstruction surgery.Case series; Level of evidence, 4.A group of 140 young patients (<20 years old at surgery) who had 1 ACL reconstruction and no subsequent ACL injuries completed a survey regarding details of their sport participation at a mean follow-up of 5 years (range, 3-7 years).Overall, 76% (95% CI, 69%-83%) of the young patient group returned to the same preinjury sport. Return rates were higher for males than females (81% vs 71%, respectively; P > .05). Of those who returned to their sport, 65% reported that they could perform as well as before the ACL injury and 66% were still currently participating in their respective sport. Young athletes who never returned to sport cited fear of a new injury (37%) or study/work commitments (30%) as the primary reasons for dropout. For those who had successfully returned to their preinjury sport but subsequently stopped participating, the most common reason cited for stopping was study/work commitments (53%). At a mean 5-year follow-up, 48% of female patients were still participating in level I (jumping, hard pivoting) sports, as were 54% of males.A high percentage of younger patients return to their preinjury sport after ACL reconstruction surgery. For patients in this cohort who had not sustained a second ACL injury, the majority continue to participate and are satisfied with their performance.

publication date

  • 2017