Incidence of Second Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears (1990-2000) and Associated Factors in a Specific Geographic Locale

Nathan D. Schilaty, Nathaniel A. Bates, Thomas L. Sanders, Aaron J. Krych, Michael J. Stuart, Timothy E. Hewett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: Second anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears after reconstruction occur at a reported rate of 20% to 30%. This high frequency indicates that there may be factors that predispose an athlete to graft failure and ACL tears of the contralateral knee. Purpose: To determine the incidence of second ACL injuries in a geographic population-based cohort over a 10-year observation period. Study Design: Descriptive epidemiological study. Methods: International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision (ICD-9) codes relevant to the diagnosis of an ACL tear and the procedure code for ACL reconstruction were searched across the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a multidisciplinary county database, between the years of 1990 and 2000. This cohort of patients was tracked for subsequent ACL injuries through December 31, 2015. The authors identified 1041 patients with acute, isolated ACL tears. These patients were stratified by primary and secondary tears, sex, age, activity level, side of injury, sex by side of injury, and graft type. Results: Of the 1041 unique patients with a diagnosed ACL tear in Olmsted County, Minnesota, from 1990 to 2000, there were 66 (6.0%) second ACL tears; 66.7% of these tears occurred on the contralateral side. A second ACL injury was influenced by graft type (P <.0001), election of ACL reconstruction (P =.0060), and sex by side of injury (P =.0072). Nonparametric analysis of graft disruption by graft type demonstrated a higher prevalence of second ACL tears with allografts compared with hamstring (P =.0499) or patellar tendon autografts (P =.0012). Conclusion: The incidence of second ACL tears in this population-based cohort was 6.0%, with 66.7% of these tears occurring on the contralateral side from the original injury. There was a high population incidence of second ACL injuries in female patients younger than age 20 years. The utilization of patellar tendon autografts significantly reduced the risk of second ACL injuries compared with allografts or hamstring autografts in this cohort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1567-1573
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • epidemiology
  • graft tear
  • incidence
  • secondary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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