header advert
You currently have no access to view or download this content. Please log in with your institutional or personal account if you should have access to through either of these
The Bone & Joint Journal Logo

Receive monthly Table of Contents alerts from The Bone & Joint Journal

Comprehensive article alerts can be set up and managed through your account settings

View my account settings

Get Access locked padlock


Delaying anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction increases the rate and severity of medial chondral injuries

a retrospective cohort study

Download PDF



The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between chondral injury and interval from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear to surgical reconstruction (ACLr).


Between January 2012 and January 2022, 1,840 consecutive ACLrs were performed and included in a single-centre retrospective cohort. Exclusion criteria were partial tears, multiligament knee injuries, prior ipsilateral knee surgery, concomitant unicompartmental knee arthroplasty or high tibial osteotomy, ACL agenesis, and unknown date of tear. A total of 1,317 patients were included in the final analysis, with a median age of 29 years (interquartile range (IQR) 23 to 38). The median preoperative Tegner Activity Score (TAS) was 6 (IQR 6 to 7). Patients were categorized into four groups according to the delay to ACLr: < three months (427; 32%), three to six months (388; 29%), > six to 12 months (248; 19%), and > 12 months (254; 19%). Chondral injury was assessed during arthroscopy using the International Cartilage Regeneration and Joint Preservation Society classification, and its association with delay to ACLr was analyzed using multivariable analysis.


In the medial compartment, delaying ACLr for more than 12 months was associated with an increased rate (odds ratio (OR) 1.93 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.27 to 2.95); p = 0.002) and severity (OR 1.23 (95% CI 1.08 to 1.40); p = 0.002) of chondral injuries, compared with < three months, with no association in patients aged > 50 years old. No association was found for shorter delays, but the overall dose-effect analysis was significant for the rate (p = 0.015) and severity (p = 0.026) of medial chondral injuries. Increased TAS was associated with a significantly reduced rate (OR 0.88 (95% CI 0.78 to 0.99); p = 0.036) and severity (OR 0.96 (95% CI 0.92 to 0.99); p = 0.017) of medial chondral injuries. In the lateral compartment, no association was found between delay and chondral injuries.


Delay was associated with an increased rate and severity of medial chondral injuries in a dose-effect fashion, in particular for delays > 12 months. Younger patients seem to be at higher risk of chondral injury when delaying surgery. The timing of ACLr should be optimally reduced in this population.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2023;105-B(9):953–960.

Correspondence should be sent to Nicolas Cance. E-mail:

For access options please click here