Objective To assess whether initial non-operative treatment of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ruptures with optional delayed ACL reconstruction leads to more meniscal procedures compared with early ACL reconstruction during the 2-year follow-up. Methods We compared the number of meniscal procedures of 167 patients with an ACL rupture, who either received early ACL reconstruction (n=85) or rehabilitation therapy plus optional delayed ACL reconstruction (n=82), participating in the Conservative vs Operative Methods for Patients with ACL Rupture Evaluation trial. Patients were aged 18 to 65 years (mean 31.3, SD 10.5), 60% male sex (n=100). We evaluated the presence and location of meniscal tears by baseline MRI. We analysed and compared how many patients per randomisation group had a meniscal procedure during follow-up in the ACL injured knee, adjusted for sex, body mass index, age group and orthopaedic surgeon. Results At baseline, 41% of the entire study population (69/167 patients) had a meniscal tear on MRI. During the 2-year follow-up, 25 patients randomised to early ACL reconstruction (29%, 25/85 patients) had a meniscal procedure, compared with 17 patients randomised to rehabilitation plus optional delayed reconstruction (21%, 17/82 patients) (risk ratio 0.67 with 95% CI 0.40 to 1.12, p=0.12). Of these patients who received early ACL reconstruction (n=82) and patients that received delayed ACL reconstruction (n=41), 5% of the patients had an additional isolated meniscal procedure after ACL reconstruction. In patients who received no ACL reconstruction (n=41), 10% (n=4) had an isolated surgical procedure for a meniscal tear during the 2-year follow-up period. Conclusion Initial non-surgical treatment of ACL ruptures followed by optional delayed ACL reconstruction does not lead to a higher number of meniscal procedures compared with early ACL reconstruction over a 2-year follow-up period.
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