Knee Surgery? Watch out for Arthritis

Osteoarthritis in the knee was more common after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The knees have it — arthritis, that is. Knee injuries that require surgery may lead to a raised risk of arthritis in the knee.

A new study from Australia found that osteoarthritis (OA) was more common than once thought in people who had undergone a knee surgery called anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR). Men were more susceptible to OA after the surgery than women.

“OA one year following ACLR was more common than previously recognized, while being absent in uninjured control knees," the authors of this study wrote. "The patterns of OA disease differed markedly from typical non-traumatic OA characteristics and pointed to the patellofemoral compartment ... as being at particular risk for OA following ACLR."

Kay M. Crossley, PT, PhD, of the University of Queensland School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in Brisbane, led this study of 111 people age 22 or older. These patients had undergone ACLR after a knee injury.

Dr. Crossley and team compared the postsurgical patients to a group of 20 people who had not had surgery or knee injuries.

One year after surgery, patients who had had ACLR were more likely to develop OA than healthy people.

Some areas of the knee were more likely to develop OA than others. Dr. Crossley and team found that patients were 17 percent more likely to develop OA in the patellofemoral compartment after an ACLR than healthy patients. The patellofemoral compartment is the area where the femur and patella — the thigh bone and kneecap — meet.

Older patients were four times more likely to develop patellofemoral OA than younger patients.

Men were five to six times more likely than women to develop OA in the patellofemoral compartment.

Dr. Crossley and team noted that patients who had ACLR tended to only develop OA in the knee that underwent surgery. This suggests that either the surgery or the injury itself caused the OA.

This study was published in the February issue of Arthritis and Rheumatology.

The Queensland Orthopaedic Physiotherapy Network, the University of Melbourne Research Collaboration, and the University of British Columbia Centre for Hip Health and Mobility funded this research.

Study author Dr. Ali Guermazi was the president of Boston Imaging Core Lab, LLC, and a consultant to Merck Serono, Sanofi-Aventis, Genzyme and TissueGene.

Review Date: 
February 20, 2015
Last Updated:
February 24, 2015