Clinical Implications of Bone Bruise Patterns Accompanying Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears

Patrick Ward, Peter Chang, Logan Radtke, Robert H. Brophy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears are common injuries; they are often associated with concomitant injuries to other structures in the knee, including bone bruises. While there is limited evidence that bone bruises are associated with slightly worse clinical outcomes, the implications of bone bruises for the articular cartilage and the risk of developing osteoarthritis (OA) in the knee are less clear. Recent studies suggest that the bone bruise pattern may be helpful in predicting the presence of meniscal ramp lesions. Evidence Acquisition: A literature review was performed in EMBASE using the keyword search phrase (acl OR (anterior AND cruciate AND ligament)) AND ((bone AND bruise) OR (bone AND contusion) OR (bone AND marrow AND edema) OR (bone AND marrow AND lesion) OR (subchondral AND edema)). Study Design: Clinical review. Level of Evidence: Level 4. Results: The literature search returned 93 articles of which 25 were ultimately included in this review. Most studies identified a high prevalence of bone bruises in the setting of acute ACL injury. Individual studies have found relationships between bone bruise volume and functional outcomes; however, these results were not supported by systematic review. Similarly, the literature has contradictory findings on the relationship between bone bruises and the progression of OA after ACL reconstruction. Investigations into concomitant injury found anterolateral ligament and meniscal ramp lesions to be associated with bone bruise presence on magnetic resonance imaging. Conclusion: Despite the ample literature identifying the prevalence of bone bruises in association with ACL injury, there is little evidence to correlate bone bruises to functional outcomes or progression of OA. Bone bruises may best be used as a marker for concomitant injury such as medial meniscal ramp lesions that are not always well visualized on magnetic resonance imaging. Further research is required to establish the longitudinal effects of bone bruises on ACL tear recovery. Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy: 2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-591
Number of pages7
JournalSports Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • ACL
  • bone bruise
  • impaction fracture
  • subchondral edema


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