Does Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Protect the Meniscus and Its Repair? A Systematic Review

Jasmijn V. Korpershoek, Tommy S. de Windt, Lucienne A. Vonk, Aaron J. Krych, Daniel B.F. Saris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear and meniscal injury often co-occur. The protective effect of early ACL reconstruction (ACLR) on meniscal injury and its repair is not clear. Critical literature review can support or change clinical strategies and identify gaps in the available evidence. Purpose: To assess the protective effect of ACLR on the meniscus and provide clinical guidelines for managing ACL tears and subsequent meniscal injury. We aimed to answer the following questions: (1) Does ACLR protect the meniscus from subsequent injury? (2) Does early ACLR reduce secondary meniscal injury compared with delayed ACLR? (3) Does ACLR protect the repaired meniscus? Study Design: Systematic review; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: A systematic review was performed through use of MEDLINE and Embase electronic databases according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. Search terms included ACL, reconstruction, and meniscus. Studies describing primary ACLR and nonoperative treatment in adult patients were included, as well as studies indicating timing of ACLR. The included articles were assessed individually for risk of bias through use of the modified Cochrane Risk of Bias and MINORS (Methodological Index for Nonrandomized Studies) tools. Results: One level 2 randomized controlled trial and several level 3 and 4 studies indicated a protective effect of ACLR on meniscal injury compared with nonoperative treatment. There was weak (level 3) evidence of the protective effect of early ACLR on the meniscus. Meniscal repair failure was less frequent in patients with ACL reconstruction than in patients with ACL deficiency (level 4). Conclusion: The evidence collected in this review suggests a protective effect of ACLR for subsequent meniscal injury (level 2 evidence). ACLR should be performed within 3 months of injury (level 3 evidence). Meniscal injury requiring surgical repair in the ACL-deficient knee should be treated with repair accompanied by ACLR (level 3 evidence). The paucity of level 2 studies prevents the formation of guidelines based on level 1 evidence. There is a strong clinical need for randomized or prospective trials to provide guidelines on timing of ACLR and meniscal repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • ACL
  • biology of ligament
  • biomechanics
  • meniscus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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