SATURDAY, March 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Young people who have a type of knee surgery called anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction may be at increased risk for arthritis in that knee later in life, a small new study suggests.
This type of surgery is used to repair ACL tears, which can occur in sports such as football, basketball, soccer and skiing.
The study included 32 people who had ACL reconstruction when they were aged 12 to 16 and were assessed 10 to 20 years after their surgery. Evidence of osteoarthritis was found in 65 percent of the knees that had the surgery, compared with 14 percent of non-injured knees.
Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is usually associated with chronic wear and tear on the joints.
The findings were scheduled for presentation Saturday at a meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, held in New Orleans. The study data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
"Long-term follow-ups after the surgical treatment of ACL injuries in kids are rare and this is one of the few studies that has been able to track individuals," lead author Dr. Olle Mansson said in a society news release.
"Often these procedures do allow individuals to return to the playing field and continue an active lifestyle," Mansson added. "However, it is still important to evaluate long-term effects such as osteoarthritis when considering surgeries for these pediatric patients."
Although the study found an association between ACL reconstruction in kids and a raised risk of knee arthritis later in life, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about anterior cruciate ligament surgery.