We followed 292 patients who had sustained an acute traumatic hemarthrosis for a mean of 64 months. The KT-1000 arthrometer measurements within 90 days of injury revealed the injured knee was stable in 56 patients and unstable in 236. Forty-five unstable patients had an ACL reconstruction within 90 days of injury. Surgical procedures performed > 90 days after injury included ligament reconstruction in 46 patients. Factors that correlated with patients who had late surgery for a meniscal tear or an ACL reconstruction (P < 0.05) were preinjury hours of sports participation, arthrometer measurements, and patient age. Follow-up data are presented for the patients divided into four groups: I, early stable, no reconstruction; II, early unstable, no reconstruction; III, early reconstruction; and IV, late reconstruction. No patient changed occupation because of the knee injury. Hours per year of sports participation and levels of sports participation decreased in all groups. Joint arthrosis was documented by radiograph and bone scan. Joint surface injury abnormalities observed at surgery and meniscal surgery showed greater abnormalities by radiograph and bone scan scores (P < 0.05). Reconstructed patients had a higher level of arthrosis by radiograph and bone scan.
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