ACL surgery for young athletes

stockphotopro_18913308QYH_soccer_playerAfter an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury, the question most patients have is, “Will I need surgery?” For children 14 and younger, this is a tricky subject.

Previously, many orthopedic surgeons felt it was better to wait a few years so that the child’s bones had more time to grow.  But at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s recent annual meeting in Keystone, CO, researchers indicated that it was actually better to operate quickly, even on younger patients. Those who waited were 11 times more likely to sustain a related injury.

Lyle Micheli, MD, director of Division of Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston, is glad to hear that word is getting out. According to Micheli, the risks of delaying surgery outweigh the benefits. “Waiting often doesn’t work,” he says. “A patient will continue to have problems until the cartilage tears.”

For years, Micheli and other orthopedic surgeons at the hospital have been performing ACL surgery on young patients. In fact, in 1976, Micheli performed surgery on a 3-year-old who had been born without an ACL. The boy went on to play lacrosse at Dartmouth.

Micheli suggests that, if a patient were to wait for surgery, it should be over the course of a few months rather than years.

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2 thoughts on “ACL surgery for young athletes

  1. i am trying to get my doctor and my mo to let me get surgery, but they wont let me. i am 14 amd tore my acl during soccer.

  2. my 8 1/2 year old had his acl repaired little over 3 months ago, we opted to repair because of the risks of injuring his knee in other way (mcl, cartilage and such). he is an active boy and even simply playing with his friends would be a risk for him if we waited until he was older (first doc said he wouldn’t repair him for 5 years). we got a great doctor that has had great success (no growth arrests) in younger patients, although our son was the youngest she’d repaired (by 6m-1year). so far he is doing well and he has grown since surgery and no growth arrest yet. his injury happened in a mini bike accident.

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