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ACL Grafts: Diameter Does Matter, Sort Of

Clinical failure of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructions continues to be a too-common scenario. The increasing incidence of ACL revision is due to a variety of factors, including greater intensity of postsurgical physical activity, technical issues, and anatomical influences of the proximal tibia and distal femur. Registries are important sources of data for ACL-related investigations, but I think they are most useful in clarifying experimental designs for more sophisticated clinical research.

In a cohort study in the October 16, 2019 issue of The Journal, Snaebjornsson et al. examined the influence of ACL graft diameter on the risk of revision surgery over 2 years in >18,000 subjects whose data resided in the national knee ligament registries of Sweden and Norway. The vast majority of those patients (92.8%) received a hamstring autograft, with 7.2% receiving a patellar tendon autograft. Overall, the 2-year rate of ACL revision was 2.63% for patellar tendon autografts and 2.08% for hamstring autografts, a statistically nonsignificant difference in relative risk.

However, the authors found an important correlation between graft diameter in the hamstring tendon cohort, with autografts <8 mm in diameter being associated with a higher risk of revision, compared with larger-diameter hamstring autografts. Additionally, patients treated with hamstring graft diameters of ≥9 mm or ≥10 mm had a lower risk of ACL revision surgery than those treated with patellar tendon grafts of any size.

One key limitation that should influence our interpretation of this study is a lack of detail regarding how compliant surgeons were intraoperatively with the use of the measurement device that is depicted in the manuscript and shown above. In addition, the limitations of registry data did not permit the authors to adjust for postsurgical exposures, such as return to sport, the increasing intensity of which makes rerupture more likely. Additional relevant information that would have aided interpretation of the findings includes the relative size of the tibia and femur, lateral condyle size and shape, and proximal tibial slope.

Despite these limitations, this study should prompt further research that uses robust clinical designs to more fully investigate the impact of graft diameter on ACL rerupture rates.

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief

April 2019 Article Exchange with JOSPT

In 2015, JBJS launched an “article exchange” collaboration with the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) to support multidisciplinary integration, continuity of care, and excellent patient outcomes in orthopaedics and sports medicine.

During the month of April 2019, JBJS and OrthoBuzz readers will have open access to the JOSPT article titled “Repair of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament of the Elbow: Rehabilitation Following Internal Brace Surgery.”

In this Clinical Commentary based on the authors’ experience with >350 cases, Wilk et al. describe the rehabilitation process used for patients following UCL repair with an “internal brace.” This recent surgical advance in managing incomplete UCL tears enhances elbow joint stability while the ligament is healing.

Weight Training-Induced Bilateral Knee Dislocation

You know you’re having a bad day at the gym when both your knees dislocate during a leg-press workout. That is what happened to a 44-year-old male recreational weight lifter who  “locked out” both his knees while trying to press 1,100 lbs. This unusual case is described in the latest issue of JBJS Case Connector.

Knee joint dislocations are true emergencies because of the potential for concomitant neurovascular injury. This patient was transferred to a tertiary academic hospital for emergency closed reduction and application of knee-spanning external fixators. Although both tibiae were dislocated anteriorly, both lower extremities were neurovascularly intact.

One month after the initial injury, the external fixators were removed and the knees were placed in bilateral hinged braces. MRI performed shortly thereafter revealed tears of multiple ligaments and distal popliteus tendon tears in both knees. At 4 months postinjury, the patient underwent left-side ACL reconstruction, PCL reconstruction, FCL repair and reconstruction, popliteal reconstruction with allograft, and a popliteofibular ligament reconstruction. Seven months after that, he underwent similar procedures on the right side.

At the most recent postsurgical follow-up, 17 months after the initial injury, the range of motion in both knees was 0° to 130°, and the patient was able to participate in straight line running, squats, and cycling.

The authors emphasize that any locking of the knees results in 5° to 10° of hyperextension, which places an increased load across the ACL. Add to that the heavy weight and the abrupt increase in velocity at the extreme range of motion, and you have a recipe for serious injury. The authors conclude that “the risk of knee dislocation can be reduced by avoiding locking and hyperextension of the knees during any type of leg press or squatting exercise.”

For more information about JBJS Case Connector, watch this video featuring JBJS Editor in Chief Dr. Marc Swiontkowski.

Arthroscopy Beats PT for FAI at 8 Months

OrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. In response to a recent BMJ studythe following commentary comes from Matthew R. Schmitz, MD, FAOA.

Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) syndrome continues to be a hot topic in the orthopaedic community. The first two decades of this century have seen huge increases in the number of hip arthroscopies performed in the US and UK,1,2 most of those to treat FAI.  In the February 7, 2019 issue of BMJ, Palmer et al., reporting on behalf of the Femoroacetabular Impingement Trial (FAIT), published preliminary findings from a multicenter randomized controlled trial comparing arthroscopic hip surgery to activity modification and physiotherapy for symptomatic FAI.3

The trial randomized 222 patients with a clinical diagnosis of FAI into each cohort (110 in the physiotherapy group and 112 in the arthroscopy group). Follow-up assessments were performed by clinicians blinded to the treatment arm, and attempts were made to standardize both interventions. The participants will eventually be followed for 3 years, but this early report evaluated outcomes 8 months after randomization, with follow-up data available for  >80% of patients in both groups.

Baseline characteristics with regard to demographics, radiographic findings, and clinical measurements were similar between the two groups. After adjusting for multiple potential confounders, the authors found that the mean Hip Outcomes Score Activities of Daily Living (HOS ADL) was 10 points higher in the arthroscopy group than in the physiotherapy group, exceeding the prespecified minimum clinically important difference (MCID) of 9 points. The MCID was reached in 51% of surgical patients compared to 32% in the therapy cohort. In addition, the patient acceptable symptomatic state (PASS)—defined as a HOS ADL ≥87 points—was achieved in 48% of surgical patients and only 19% of therapy patients. Relative to the physiotherapy group, the arthroscopic group also had better hip flexion and superior results in a variety of commonly used hip patient-reported outcomes scores.

The 8-month data from this study show that there is a real improvement in patient function and reported outcomes from arthroscopic management for FAI. It will be important, however, to follow these patients for the entire 3 years of the FAIT study to show whether these improvements persist. It should also be emphasized that only half of the patients treated with surgical management achieved MCID at the 8-month point. That finding supports what I tell patients in my young-adult hip-preservation clinics, which seems relevant as baseball season starts: There are rarely any home runs in arthroscopic hip surgery. There are mainly singles and doubles that we hope to stretch into doubles and triples. Still, it appears that even those base hits with arthroscopic surgery are better than the physiotherapy alternative—at least in the early innings of the game.

Matthew R. Schmitz, MD, FAOA is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in adolescent sports and young adult hip preservation at the San Antonio Military Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. He is also a member of the JBJS Social Media Advisory Board.

References

  1. Maradit Kremers H, Schilz SR, Van Houten HK et al. Trends in Utilization and Outcomes of Hip Arthrocopy in the United States Between 2005 and 2013. J Arthroplasty 2017; 32:750-5.
  2. Palmer AJ, Malak TT, Broomfield J, et al. Past and projected temporal trends in arthroscopic hip surgery in England between 2002 and 2018. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med 2016;2:e000082
  3. Palmer AJ, Gupta VA, Fernquest S, et al. Arthroscopic hip surgery compared with physiotherapy and activity modification for the treatment of symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement: multicenter randomized controlled trial. BMJ 2019; 364:l185

Education, Guidelines, Willingness: Keys to Changing Opioid-Prescribing Habits

When planning for any type of surgical procedure, the orthopaedist considers many patient and injury-specific variables. With a distal radius fracture, for example, the main goal of the surgery—anatomic reconstruction of the distal radius—remains constant. However, there are numerous other variables (fracture morphology and patient age, just to name 2) that have to be considered to achieve that goal. Yet, when it comes to postoperative pain control, I imagine that most orthopaedic surgeons prescribe the same amount of opioids to almost every patient undergoing an open reduction/internal fixation of a distal radius fracture, regardless of unique patient characteristics. Our medical mantra that “no two patients are the same” seems to fall by the wayside when it comes to postoperative pain control.

This disconnect is what I thought about while reading the article by Stepan et al. in the January 2, 2019 issue of The Journal. The authors’ institution developed and disseminated to all prescribers a 1-hour opioid education program and consensus-based postoperative opioid prescription guidelines. They then compared the number of opioid pills and total oral morphine equivalents prescribed after 9 ambulatory procedures within 3 subspecialty services (sports medicine, hand, and foot and ankle) prior to and after implementation of the guidelines. Stepan et al. found a significant decrease  in the amount of narcotics prescribed after 6 of the 9 surgery types after implementation of the guidelines. Over the course of a year, those decreases would have equaled about 30,000 fewer opioid pills!

Interestingly, there was no significant post-guideline decrease in opioid prescribing after any of the 3 foot-and-ankle procedures. The authors attribute that finding to the slow adoption of the guidelines due to adherence to previously developed pain-management recommendations in this subspecialty.

It has become apparent that we tend to overprescribe opioids postoperatively (see related OrthoBuzz post). This study supports previous data showing that prescription guidelines can be useful in decreasing the amount of postoperative narcotics prescribed to patients, while maintaining adequate pain management and good levels of patient satisfaction.  While further work in developing educational tools and procedure-specific “standards” to help surgeons guide their postoperative prescribing practices would be useful, a surgeon’s mindfulness is equally important. We need first to recognize that orthopaedic surgeons tend to overprescribe postoperative opioids—and second, we must be willing to change our habits. Without both awareness and willingness, the best guidelines and recommendations will be ignored, and an opportunity for us to help curb the opioid crisis in our country will be wasted.

Chad A. Krueger, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media

Orthopaedic Surgeons Must Educate Communities About Youth Sports Injuries

girl basketball player2OrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Carl Nunziato, MD and Anthony Johnson, MD in response to a TV news segment on WLWT in Cincinnati.

While viewing the WLWT segment on youth sports injury, we were encouraged that the reporter sought out a local orthopedic surgeon to comment on the risks associated with single-sport specialization. As orthopaedic surgeons, our opinions are a trusted voice in our communities, and we need to educate athletes, coaches, and parents alike of the dangers of such specialization. We commend Dr. Timothy Kremchek for his involvement in his local community and have felt the frustration he expressed regarding the rising sport-injury rates among adolescents.

However, we caution providers against characterizing single-sport specialization as “child abuse,” as Dr. Kremchek did in this segment. This extreme language, even if used to emphasize the potentially serious nature of some sport injuries, is counterproductive. Instead, we encourage all musculoskeletal clinicians to focus on educating the public on how to reduce risk in adolescent athletes, rather than shaming or blaming.

We’ve helped many patients—both minors and adults—as they struggled to rehab from injuries, only to realize that returning to the same level of competition may not be possible. In such cases, many patients and/or their parents ask the same guilt-ridden questions as the mother of the young basketball player in the news segment: “Did I make a mistake? Did I push too hard?”

It is true that youthful participation in a single sport year-round has been shown to result in increased injury rates, burnout, and possibly even limitations in peak performance in the chosen sport due to delayed development of other muscle groups and fine motor skills. We also cannot deny the risks and costs associated with the increase in operations on young athletes. It’s key to remember, however, the principal concept of patient autonomy. As the young patient in the story reminds us, these kids often truly love their sport – and many would choose to continue participating even if they knew the risk and seriousness of eventual injury.

Instead of using sensational phrases like “child abuse,” which may frighten  families or stir up feelings of guilt, we should provide resources for coaches, parents, physicians, and athletes aimed at encouraging healthy participation and minimization of one-sport injuries. One example is the AAOS/AOSSM OneSport initiative. Educating patients and their families requires significant time and effort on the part of the orthopaedic surgeon, but it is likely to result in a more positive interaction with the patient and parents. And these interactions may help emphasize the long-term lifestyle behaviors that we are hoping to cultivate among these vulnerable populations.

Carl A. Nunziato, MD is a resident in orthopaedic surgery at Dell Medical School in Austin, Texas. Anthony Johnson, MD is the orthopaedic surgery residency program director in the Department of Surgery and Perioperative Care at Dell Medical School.

Helpful Hint for Managing Femoral Neck Stress Fractures

Hip Effusion for OBuzzThe incidence of patients presenting with proximal thigh and groin pain is increasing along with increased interest in recreational athletic activity. When it is associated with a history of increased physical activity, this pain profile often prompts the ordering of a hip MRI if presenting radiographs are unremarkable. However, surgeons often find it difficult to make accurate prognoses and treatment recommendations when the MRI findings suggest a femoral neck stress fracture.

In the September 5, 2018 issue of The Journal, Steele et al. provide us with helpful hints for determining when to proceed with surgical stabilization of the femoral neck in this clinical scenario. Of the femoral neck stress fracture patients in this study who progressed to a surgical procedure, >85% had an effusion on the initial MRI, compared with only 26% of those whose condition resolved with nonoperative treatment. In statistical terms, those who had a hip effusion had an 8-fold increased risk of progression to surgery compared to those without a hip effusion. Meanwhile, the overall fracture-line percentage on the initial MRI turned out to be a poor metric for predicting progression.

Stabilization of a femoral neck stress fracture with percutaneous implants usually improves pain and predictably prevents displacement of the fracture and the attendant risk of nonunion and osteonecrosis of the femoral head. Further clinical research should help validate the seemingly reliable MRI-based predictor identified by these authors.

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief

Gait Mechanics After ACL Reconstruction Differ According to Medial Meniscal Treatment

Knee osteoarthritis risk is high after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) and arthroscopic meniscal surgery, and higher among individuals who undergo both.

Full article: https://bit.ly/2LPna91

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An Increased Lateral Femoral Condyle Ratio Is a Risk Factor for Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between distal femoral morphology and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, ACL reconstruction (ACLR) failure, and contralateral ACL injury. https://jbjs.org/reader.php?source=The_Journal_of_Bone_and_Joint_Surgery/100/10/857/abstract&id=30301&rsuite_id=1666295#info #JBJSInfographics #VisualAbstract

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JBJS 100: Knee Hemarthrosis and Achilles Ruptures

JBJS 100Under one name or another, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery has published quality orthopaedic content spanning three centuries. In 1919, our publication was called the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the first volume of that journal was Volume 1 of what we know today as JBJS.

Thus, the 24 issues we turn out in 2018 will constitute our 100th volume. To help celebrate this milestone, throughout the year we will be spotlighting 100 of the most influential JBJS articles on OrthoBuzz, making the original content openly accessible for a limited time.

Unlike the scientific rigor of Journal content, the selection of this list was not entirely scientific. About half we picked from “JBJS Classics,” which were chosen previously by current and past JBJS Editors-in-Chief and Deputy Editors. We also selected JBJS articles that have been cited more than 1,000 times in other publications, according to Google Scholar search results. Finally, we considered “activity” on the Web of Science and The Journal’s websites.

We hope you enjoy and benefit from reading these groundbreaking articles from JBJS, as we mark our 100th volume. Here are two more:

Arthroscopy in Acute Traumatic Hemarthrosis of the Knee
F R Noyes, R W Bassett, E S Grood, D L Butler: JBJS, 1980 July; 62 (5): 687
This paper was among the first to identify the high rate of serious knee injuries among patients with acute traumatic hemarthrosis (ATH). Noyes’ paper showed that 72% of knees with ATH also had some degree of ACL injury. While orthopaedists generally no longer use knee arthroscopy as a diagnostic tool in the setting of ATH, because of this article, they often order MRI when patients present with this acute knee injury.

Operative versus Nonoperative Treatment of Acute Achilles Tendon Ruptures
K Willits, A Amendola, D Bryant, N Mohtadi, J R Giffin, P Fowler, C O Kean, A Kirkley: JBJS, 2010 December 1; 92 (17): 2767
This multicenter randomized trial was not the first to compare surgical treatment of Achilles tendon ruptures with nonoperative treatment that included early functional range of motion, but it confirmed that in patients treated nonoperatively, early functional treatment is preferable to cast immobilization. Since this paper was published, more than 20 studies investigating Achilles tendon ruptures have been published in JBJS, emphasizing that the search goes on for treatment protocols—surgical and nonoperative—that are effective and relatively free of complications.