Research shows Gender plays a Role in Knee Injuries

According to a recent study, gender may be linked to an increased risk of suffering from complications of an ACL injury.

According to a recent study, gender may be linked to an increased risk of suffering from complications of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Researchers from Akershus University Hospital in Lorenskog, Norway, found that the "male gender is associated with an increased risk of full-thickness articular cartilage lesions in ACL-injured knees,” wrote the authors.

"Having articular cartilage lesions (a hole or rough spot in the cartilage of the knee) is considered a predictor of future osteoarthritis-a debilitating joint condition," said lead author Jan Harald Roetterud, M.D., from Akershus University Hospital, Lorenskog, Norway. "Our research is exciting because it highlights the possibility of gender as a significant risk factor, along with age, knee trauma and time between injury and surgery exceeding one year, in these types of injuries."

It is known that additional stress on cartilage around the knee following an ACL injury can lead to full-thickness lesions. Typically, treatment involves ACL reconstruction to relieve this pressure and, with luck, defend the cartilage from stress.

Roetterud and his fellow researchers accumulated and assessed data from 15,783 patients who were undergoing primary ACL reconstructions between the years 2005 and 2008; their ages ranged from eight to sixty-nine.

Of the 15,783 patients, 1,012 (6.4%) had full-thickness cartilage lesions. The researchers discovered that 372 (5.6%) of the lesions occurred in females, while 640 (7%) occurred in males.

The researchers noted that the overall increase of males suffering from the lesions over females was at an odds ratio of 1.22. There was also an increased risk of full-thickness lesions in males who played team handball (an odds ratio of 2.36), but no other sport was identified to increase the risk. “Male team handball had an increased risk of full-thickness lesions," the authors wrote.

"The goal of this type of research is to continually identify risk factors for injury," Roetterud stated. "With this information we will hopefully be able to improve prevention and treatment, as well as provide new guidelines for an athlete's return to sports."

The research will be presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's Annual Meeting in San Diego.