Operative and nonoperative treatment options for ACL tears in the adult patient: a conceptual review.

Ljiljana Bogunovic, Matthew J. Matava

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is common among athletic individuals. Both nonoperative and operative treatment options exist. The optimal treatment of an adult with an ACL tear depends on several patient-specific factors, including age, occupation, and desired activity level. In less active patients with sedentary jobs, nonoperative management, consisting of physical therapy, bracing, and activity modification can yield successful results. In active patients who want to resume participation in jumping, cutting, or pivoting sports, patients who have physically demanding occupations, or patients who fail a trial of nonoperative management, ACL reconstruction is recommended. Reconstruction utilizing autograft tissue is preferred over allograft, especially in the younger athlete, but allograft tissue is a reasonable option in the older (aged > 40 years) and less active adult, as well. Successful results have been achieved with both patellar tendon and hamstring grafts. The optimal treatment in adult patients with ACL tears should be based on careful consideration of the patient's goals for return to activity, knee-specific comorbidities, such as coexistent meniscal pathology or osteoarthritis, and his or her willingness to follow a detailed rehabilitation regimen. Our article provides an overview of current nonoperative and operative treatment options for adults with ACL tears, considers the outcomes of both nonoperative and operative strategies, and provides general recommendations as to the ideal management for a given patient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-40
Number of pages8
JournalThe Physician and sportsmedicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2013


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