March 5, 2008 -- Baby boomers who get ACL reconstruction surgery have a good shot at resuming their pre-injury activity level, a new study shows.
"Today's active baby boomers are pushing the envelope for when people are considered to be too old for ACL surgery," Diane Dahm, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., states in a news release. "When considering candidates for ACL surgery, people's fitness levels and their desire to return to an active lifestyle should be taken into account rather than looking at age."
Dahm's team studied 35 people aged 50 and older (average age 57) who got surgery from 1990 to 2002 to repair their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which helps stabilize the knee.
About half of the patients suffered their ACL injury while playing sports. For most, the injuries weren't immediately disabling; the patients got their ACL surgery an average of two years after their initial injury.
The patients were followed for an average of four years. During that time, 83% returned to sports and their ACL returned to normal or near-normal function.
"Twenty years ago, we did not see older patients being so active later in life. ACL surgery was rarely considered for people in their 40s and 50s," states Dahm. "Older patients today want to continue to run, play basketball, and be active late into life, so they need a level of knee stability that will support an active lifestyle."
The researchers reported their findings today in San Francisco at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' annual meeting.