There has been a renewed interest in ACL primary repairs as the treatment for Sherman type I and type II ACL ruptures. Careful analysis of historical data has revealed that certain ACL tear subgroups, especially proximal tears with good tissue quality, have positive clinical outcomes with primary ACL repair.1

Studies reporting outcomes of remnant-preserving ACL surgeries have shown encouraging results with a higher potential for early healing and better functional outcomes compared with remnant-resecting surgeries.2 Preservation of the native ACL using the primary repair technique can achieve short-term clinical success and result in good clinical outcomes at 3-year follow-up in this carefully selected patient population.3

Arthroscopic primary repair is a conservative approach in that no grafts need to be harvested, no tunnels need to be drilled, and revision surgery, if necessary, is more analogous to primary reconstructions.4 The goal of the procedure is to preserve the remnant native ligament. By doing this, the native nerve endings and blood supply are preserved.5


1. van der List JP, DiFelice GS. Role of tear location on outcomes of open primary repair of the anterior cruciate ligament: a systematic review of historical studies. Knee. 2017;24(5):898-908. doi:10.1016/j.knee.2017.05.009

2. van der List JP, DiFelice GS. Successful arthroscopic primary repair of a chronic anterior cruciate ligament tear 11 years following injury. HSS J. 2017;13(1):90-95. doi:10.1007/s11420-016-9530-8

3. Jonkergouw A, van der List JP, DiFelice GS. Arthroscopic primary repair of proximal anterior cruciate ligament tears: outcomes of the first 56 consecutive patients and the role of additional internal bracing. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2019;27(1):21-28. doi:10.1007/s00167-018-5338-z

4. DiFelice GS, Villegas C, Taylor S. Anterior cruciate ligament preservation: early results of a novel arthroscopic technique for suture anchor primary anterior cruciate ligament repair. Arthroscopy. 2015;31(11):2162-2171. doi:10.1016/j.arthro.2015.08.010

5. DiFelice GS, van der List JP. Arthroscopic primary repair of proximal anterior cruciate ligament tears. Arthrosc Tech. 2016;5(5):e1057-e1061. doi:10.1016/j.eats.2016.05.009

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