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Patients Aged 50 Years and Older Have Greater Complication Rates After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: A Large Database Study.



To assess the use of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction in older adults and to compare postoperative complication and revision surgery rates between patients older than and younger than 50 years old.


Retrospective data were obtained using the PearlDiver database for patients who underwent arthroscopic ACL reconstruction from January 2010 to December 2017. Trends in the annual performance of ACL reconstruction were determined using nonparametric test of trends of ranks. Patients in each age group were matched based on sex and the Charlson Comorbidity Index. The incidence of postoperative complications within 90 days and subsequent knee surgery within 2 years of ACL reconstruction was collected. Postoperative complication rates were compared between matched age groups using the χ2 test.


A total of 20,993 patients aged 50 years and older and 154,817 patients younger than 50 years underwent ACL reconstruction between 2010 and 2017. The use of ACL reconstruction in patients aged 50 years or older decreased over time (P = .044). Patients aged 50 years or older were more likely to experience at least 1 postoperative complication within 90 days compared to patients younger than 50 years (2.5% vs 2.1%, P = .007). Older patients were 1.3 times as likely to experience deep vein thrombosis (P = .002) and 1.8 times as likely to experience pulmonary embolism (P < .001). Younger patients were more likely to undergo subsequent ACL reconstruction and experience knee pain, stiffness, and wound infection postoperatively (P < .001, P < .001, P = .041). 1.6% of patients aged 50 years or older underwent total knee arthroplasty within 2 years.


ACL reconstruction in patients aged 50 years or older is associated with greater complication rates but lower rates of subsequent knee surgery relative to patients younger than 50 years of age. Younger patients were more prone to surgical complications whereas older patients experienced more medical complications. The increased incidence of VTE in this population suggests that thrombotic prophylaxis may be considered.

Level of evidence

Level III, retrospective comparative observational trial.

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