Early or delayed reconstruction in multi-ligament knee injuries: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Erik Hohmann, Vaida Glatt, Kevin Tetsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background Whether early or delayed surgical intervention in patients with multi-ligament injuries results in better outcomes, is of current and controversial debate. Purpose The purpose of this study was to perform a meta-analysis comparing early versus late surgical treatment of multi-ligament knee injuries. Methods We performed a systematic review of Medline, Embase, Scopus, and Google Scholar to identify relevant studies in the English and German literature. Eligibility criteria included studies comparing early or delayed surgical interventions for multi-ligament knee injuries, with a minimum follow-up of two years, reporting the primary clinical outcome using a validated functional scoring system and range of motion. Exclusion criteria were patients treated with multi-trauma, head injury, non-union, lower extremity fractures, or a documented history of previous knee injuries. Publication bias was assessed by funnel plot, and the risk of bias was established using the Cochrane Collaboration's risk of bias tool. Heterogeneity was assessed using χ2 and I2 statistic. Results Eight studies (n = 260 patients) were included in the analysis. 149 patients were treated early with a mean of 10.6 days; 111 patients were treated late with a mean of 294 days. The pooled estimate for clinical outcome demonstrated that early surgery resulted in significantly higher Lysholm scores (SMD 0.669, 95% CI: 0.379 to 0.959, p = 0.0001, I2 = 0%). Thirty-one per cent of all patients with early surgery had a normal or near normal knee, whereas only 15% of patients with late reconstruction reported the knee to be normal or near normal. The pooled estimates for total ROM did not demonstrate a significant difference between the groups (SMD 0.113, 95% CI: − 0.271 to 0.498, p = 0.564, I2 = 35.57%). Conclusions The results of this meta-analysis suggest that early surgical intervention in multi-ligament injuries of the knee produces a significantly superior clinical outcome, compared to late reconstruction. Although an overall trend of improved total range of knee motion was also demonstrated, this was very small and unlikely to be clinically relevant. Level of evidence Level 4; Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)909-916
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Early reconstruction
  • Knee dislocation
  • Late reconstruction
  • Meta-analysis
  • Multi-ligament knee injuries
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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