Background Abnormal gait after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) may contribute to development and/or progression of knee osteoarthritis.
Objective To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of knee kinematics and joint moments during walking after ACLR.
Methods We searched seven electronic databases and reference lists of relevant papers, for cross-sectional, human-based observational studies comparing knee joint kinematics and moments during level walking in individuals with ACLR, with the uninjured contralateral knee or healthy individuals as a control. Two independent reviewers appraised methodological quality (modified Downs and Black scale). Where possible, data were pooled by time post-ACLR (RevMan), otherwise narrative synthesis was undertaken.
Results Thirty-four studies were included. Meta-analysis revealed significant sagittal plane deficits in ACLR knees. We found greater knee flexion angles (standardised mean difference: 1.06; 95% CI 0.39 to 1.74) and joint moments (1.61; 0.87 to 2.35) <6 months post-ACLR, compared to healthy controls. However, lower peak knee flexion angles were identified 1–3 years (−2.21; −3.16 to −1.26) and ≥3 years post-ACLR (−1.38, −2.14 to −0.62), and lower knee flexion moment 6–12 months post-ACLR (−0.76; −1.40 to −0.12). Pooled data provided strong evidence of no difference in peak knee adduction moment >3 years after ACLR (vs healthy controls) (0.09; −0.63 to 0.81). No transverse plane conclusions could be drawn.
Conclusions Sagittal plane biomechanics, rather than the knee adduction moment, appear to be more relevant post-ACLR. Better understanding of sagittal plane biomechanics is necessary for optimal post-operative recovery, and to potentially prevent early onset and progression of knee OA after ACLR.
Trial registration number PROSPERO systematic review protocol registration number CRD4201400882 2.
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