What to Know About Pediatric ACL Tears

March 14, 2019 11:43 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

ACL tears are relatively common among adult athletes, especially those who participate in sports at high levels. However, in some cases, the patient may be a child, in which case the question becomes whether the approach should be a more conservative treatment plan with rehabilitation, or an actual surgery to repair the torn ACL regardless of the patient’s age.

Here’s a closer look at what you should know about pediatric ACL surgery in Las Vegas, NV.

Research suggests early surgery is the way to go

It is important to begin with a disclaimer that everyone’s medical condition is different, depending on the type of injury they sustained and any other issues that are present in their body or with their particular case.

There has been a longstanding tradition in treating pediatric ACL injuries that it was advisable to delay surgery until the patient reached skeletal maturity. However, with recent advances in technology, and with knee surgeries being of better quality than they’ve ever been before, the thinking has started to shift to a belief that early surgical treatment of ACL surgeries is generally advisable.

Research in this area emphasizes that an early surgery will prevent further meniscal or chondral damage, as well as potential instability in the knee or impaired/compromised function of the knee. However, it is also important to note that there are still plenty of documented cases of child athletes who sustained injuries to their ACL but were able to return to sports without undergoing operation and without experiencing any further incident.

Are there risks associated with surgery?

There are always risks associated with any type of surgery you can undergo—the key is balancing the risk of surgery with the risk of not having surgery. Generally, occurrence of infection, deep vein thrombosis or anesthesia-related problems are rare in pediatric patients, but there is still a nonzero risk present that shouldn’t be completely overlooked. Arthrofibrosis that can require additional procedures can occur in approximately 8.3 percent of pediatric ACL surgery cases, according to recent studies. There has also been a reported 4.2 percent incidence of growth disturbance after an ACL reconstruction, and about 25 percent of those patients who experienced the growth disturbance required additional surgery after the fact to correct it. Finally, there is always at least a small risk of osteoarthritis developing after a surgical or nonsurgical treatment of an ACL injury.

In any circumstance, proper rehabilitation is going to be crucial, whether or not the patient undergoes surgery. A knee must be repaired and re-strengthened after undergoing trauma. A rehabilitation program should include treatment of the acute injury, some strengthening approaches, rehabilitation for neuromuscular issues and balance and then focus on prevention of future knee injuries.

For more information about pediatric ACL surgery in Las Vegas, NV and whether or not that’s the right way to go for your child if they’ve recently injured their knee, we encourage you to contact the team at the office of Bernard Ong, M.D. today with any questions you have for us.

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