Failure of conservative treatment is the usual indication for the reconstruction of a knee with deficiency of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and this depends on subjective judgement. The ability of muscles to protect the subluxing joint by reflex contraction could provide an objective measurement. We have studied 30 patients with unilateral ACL deficiency by measuring the latency of reflex hamstring contraction. We found that the mean latency in the injured leg was nearly twice that in the unaffected limb (99 ms and 53 ms respectively). There was a significant correlation between the differential latency and the frequency of 'giving way' indicating that functional instability may be due, in part, to loss of proprioception. Measures of proprioception, including reflex hamstring latency, may be useful in providing an objective assessment of the efficacy of conservative treatment and the need for surgery.
J bone joint surg br
311 - 315
Adult, Anterior Cruciate Ligament, Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries, Female, Humans, Male, Muscle Contraction, Prognosis, Proprioception, Reaction Time