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Effect of Age and Femoral Tunnel Drilling Technique on the Prevalence of Intra-articular Pathology at Both Primary and Revision ACL Reconstruction.

BACKGROUND: Studies have shown that meniscal and chondral lesions are more common at the time of revision anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) compared with primary surgery; however, few have evaluated the same patients through both primary and revision surgery.

PURPOSE: To describe the prevalence of meniscal and chondral lesions at the time of primary and subsequent revision ACLR and to determine the effect of age and femoral tunnel drilling technique on the development of intra-articular pathology over time.

STUDY DESIGN: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

METHODS: All patients who had primary and subsequent revision ACLR in the same knee between 1997 and 2022 were identified from a prospectively collated database. The grading of chondral surfaces in each compartment, the presence of any meniscal tears, and treatment performed were recorded. Patients were grouped according to age and femoral tunnel drilling technique to allow subgroup analysis.

RESULTS: Overall, 262 patients were included. Median age at primary surgery was 20.2 years. Lateral meniscal tears were more prevalent than medial tears at both primary (34.7% vs 28.2%; P = .11) and revision surgery (44.3% vs 40.8%; P = .43). Chondral lesions were most frequently found on the patella (8.8%) and the medial femoral condyle (MFC; 8.0%) at primary surgery. Between surgeries, new lesions developed most commonly on the MFC (13.0%) and the lateral femoral condyle (LFC; 11.1%). It was significantly more common for lateral meniscal tears treated with repair or left in situ at primary surgery to be healed at the time of revision surgery than medial tears ( P = .01). Significantly more patients who had transtibial drilling of the femoral tunnel had a new meniscal tear at revision surgery ( P = .001). Age did not have a significant influence on the prevalence of meniscal pathology.

CONCLUSION: The prevalence of intra-articular pathology increased between primary and revision ACLR. Lateral meniscal tears were more prevalent than medial tears at both surgeries. At revision surgery, new chondral lesions were more commonly found on the MFC than the LFC. The higher incidence of new meniscal tears observed in the transtibial group may reflect the more vertical graft orientation with this technique and its inferior ability to control rotation.

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