Athletes undergoing anterior cruciate ligament surgery often have another meniscus injury, but according to new research, repairing meniscal tears at the same time is not necessary.

PT_news-01Study results presented July 10 by the Multicenter Orthopaedic Outcomes Network Knee Group at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s annual meeting in Orlando showed positive results for tears that were deemed stable and left alone at the time of ACL reconstruction.

“We examined 194 patients with meniscus tears who did not receive treatment at the time of ACL surgery,” lead author Kyle R. Duchman, MD, from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, said in a news release. “In these patients, 97.8% of those with lateral meniscus tears and 94.4% of those with medial tears left untreated required no reoperation at least six years after initial surgery.”

The study found overall, only 16 tears (7.7%) required reoperation, with the majority being in younger patients and those with a tear larger than 10 millimeters. Data was collected at seven centers between Jan. 1, 2002, and Dec. 31, 2004.

“As surgeons, we want to avoid too much intervention on a patient’s knee when good outcomes can be expected,” Duchman said in the release. “While large, unstable meniscus tears may need treatment at time of ACL surgery, this study confirms the smaller, stable tears can be left alone.”

The study was the first to report on a patient group at a minimum of six years postoperation, according to the release. The research also received the Herodicus Award at AOSSM’s 2015 annual meeting.

The MOON Knee Project is a large study involving knee surgeons at seven sites nationwide. Patients who undergo an ACL reconstruction by one of the participating surgeons are eligible to take part in the study. According to the project’s website, more than 3,500 people are enrolled in the study. The ongoing project, partially funded by the National Institutes of Health, plans to follow up with participants two, six and 10 years after their ACL reconstruction.

MOON Knee Project: https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/orthopaedics/moon-knee-project