Skip Navigation
AHRQ--Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Advancing Excellence in Health Care

Topic Suggestion Description

View Topic Suggestion Disposition (PDF) 1.3 MB

Date submitted: April 03, 2014

Briefly describe a specific question, or set of related questions, about a health care test or treatment that this program should consider.
When should adults get ACL repair surgery? Orthopedic surgeons tend to be biased toward surgery and
recommend it soon after injury even when studies show it may not benefit the patient.


Describe why this topic is important.
Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are common. The ACL is one of four major ligaments
that helps stabilize the knee. ACL repair surgery requires an arduous six to nine months of
rehabilitation in order for the patient to return to previous levels of fitness. Studies indicate that ACL
surgery may not result in better outcome than physical therapy alone.
For most patients, there is no harm in delaying surgery, doing physical therapy, and assessing knee
stability. Those with instability may still opt for surgery.

Potential Impact

How will an answer to your research question be used or help inform decisions for you or your group?
Patients will delay and possibly avoid surgery and the pain, expense, and grueling rehab involved.

Nominator Information

Other Information About You: (optional)
Please choose a description that best describes your role or perspective: (you may select more than one category if appropriate)
I am a patient who has torn both ACLs 4 years apart. The first doctor I saw at the clinic at the ski area
where I first injured myself told me that surgery would not be necessary to continue skiing. Every
other professional I saw after that told me it would be crazy not to have the repair. I did research and
decided that surgery wasn't for me. Most people would trust their orthopedist and go through surgery
and 9 months of recovery, even though for most people there is no harm in putting off the surgery,
doing PT, and assessing stability later.
If you are you making a suggestion on behalf of an organization, please state the name of the organization
Please tell us how you heard about the Effective Health Care Program
I work for a company where we were told about the AHRQ website via our weekly announcement email.