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Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction and meniscal repair rates have both increased in the past 20 years in England: hospital statistics from 1997 to 2017


Objectives We investigated the temporal trend and the geographical variation in the rate of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction and meniscal repair (MR) performed in England during a 20-year window.

Methods All hospital episodes for patients undergoing ACL reconstruction or MR between 1 April 1997 and 31 March 2017 were extracted by procedure code from the national hospital episode statistics. Age-standardised and sex-standardised rates of surgery were calculated using Office for National Statistics population data as the denominator and analysed over time both nationally and regionally by National Health Service clinical commissioning group (CCG).

Results Between 1997–1998 and 2016–2017, there were 133 270 cases of ACL reconstruction (124 489 patients) and 42 651 cases of MR (41 120 patients) (isolated or simultaneous). Nationally, the rate of ACL reconstruction increased 12-fold from 2.0/100K population (95% CI 1.9 to 2.1) in 1997–1998 to 24.2/100K (95% CI 23.8 to 24.6) in 2016–2017. The rate of MR increased more than twofold from 3.0/100K (95% CI 2.8 to 3.1) in 1997–1998 to 7.3/100K (95% CI 7.1 to 7.5) in 2016–2017. Of these cases, the rate of simultaneous ACL reconstruction and MR was 2.6/100K (95% CI 2.5 to 2.8) in 2016/2017. In 2016–2017, for patients aged 20–29, the sex-standardised rate of ACL reconstruction was 76.9/100K (95% CI 74.9 to 78.9) and for MR was 19.8/100K (95% CI 18.8 to 20.9). Practice varied by region—in 2016–2017, 14.5% (30/207) of the CCGs performed more than twice the national average rate of ACL reconstruction and 15.0% (31/207) performed more than twice the national average rate of MR.

Conclusions The rate of ACL reconstruction (12-fold) and MR (2.4-fold) has increased in England over the last two decades. There is variation in these rates across geographical regions and further work is required to deliver standardised treatment guidance for appropriate use.

  • knee
  • arthroscopy
  • meniscus
  • anterior cruciate ligament
  • ACL

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