Return to play and patient satisfaction after ACL reconstruction

Benedict U. Nwachukwu, Pramod B. Voleti, Patricia Berkanish, Brenda Chang, Matthew R. Cohn, Riley J. Williams, Answorth A. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background: Return to play and patient satisfaction after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) have been inconsistently studied. The purposes of this study were to (1) investigate rates and predictors of return to play after ACLR, (2) evaluate patient satisfaction after ACLR, and (3) analyze the relationship between return to play and satisfaction with the result of ACLR. Methods: Eligible patients were active athletes included in an institutional ACL registry who had undergone ACLR and had been followed for a minimum of 2 years. A questionnaire was administered to elicit information regarding factors associated with return to play, sports performance, reinjury, and overall patient satisfaction. The Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney U test was used to compare return to play with patient satisfaction. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify demographic, sports, and clinical factors associated with return to play. Results: Two hundred and thirty-two patients with a mean age of 26.7 years (standard deviation [SD] = 12.5 years) who had been followed for a mean of 3.7 years were enrolled. Of 231 patients who responded to the return-to-play question, 201 (87.0%) had returned to play, at a mean of 10.1 months; of 175 athletes eligible to return to their prior level of competition, 89.1% had done so. Overall satisfaction was high: 85.4% were very satisfied with the outcome and 98.1% stated that they would have surgery again. Patients were more likely to respond "very satisfied" if they had returned to play (p < 0.001). Use of a patellar tendon autograft (odds ratio [OR] = 5.63, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.32 to 25.76) increased the chance of returning to play whereas playing soccer (OR = 0.23, 95% CI = 0.08 to 0.66) or lacrosse (OR = 0.24, 95% CI = 0.06 to 0.99) preoperatively decreased the likelihood of returning to play. Conclusions: The rates of return to play and patient satisfaction are high after ACLR in active athletes. The use of patellar tendon autograft increased the likelihood of returning to play whereas preinjury participation in soccer and lacrosse decreased these odds. Additionally, patients who returned to play were more likely to be very satisfied with the result of the ACLR. Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)720-725
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - American Volume
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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