ACL reconstruction is one of the most commonly performed procedures in orthopedic practice. Young athletes sustain ACL injuries requiring reconstruction at alarming rates.
The ratio of ACL rupture in female athletes is three times more likely than in their male counterparts (Sutton, 2013).
Additionally, females postoperatively are 15 times more likely to rupture the reconstructed knee within the first year, as compared to their male counterparts (Sutton, 2013).
In a meta-analysis of ACL reconstruction choices for reconstruction options, such as graft selection, graft position, fixation types, rehabilitation course and long-term postoperative outcomes, little difference exists in outcomes between males and females despite the anatomic and other acknowledged differences. But with a cost of reconstruction procedures at one billion dollars annually in the US, efforts have turned to reducing the rates of ACL injury through risk factor identification and prevention strategies.
Due to anatomic and potential genetic predisposing factors, females are at an increased risk of ACL rupture. In light of these differences, and the lack of impact as regards surgical technique improving outcomes of female athletes, prevention has taken an increasingly important role. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons has formulated what is termed the Appropriate Use Criteria or AUC, guiding a prescribed prevention strategy to prevent ACL injury. According to the academy, these AUC’s have been more effective in female versus male athletes. The AAOS also have “return to play” criteria established by evidence-based guidelines, to decrease re-injury rates in female athletes, who have undergone ACL reconstruction.
Jeffrey Jackson MD, Melanie Morschaer MD et al. Genetic differences between ruptured ACL ligaments in young female and male athletes. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedics, March 2014 375-390
Karen Sutton MD, JM Bullock MD. Anterior Cruciate Ligament Rupture: Differences between males and females. Jan 2013 Vol 21 no 1 41-50
Timothy Hewitt Ph.D.. Et al. Why women have an increased risk of ACL injury. American Journal of Sports Medicine Feb 2006 Vol 34 (2) 299-311
J Ryan MD, Robert Magnusssen et al ACL Reconstruction: Do outcomes differ by sex? A systematic review. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 2014 Mar 19 96 (6)507-512.