Management of Partial Tears of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament: A Review of the Anatomy, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Austin V. Stone, Sean Marx, Caitlin W. Conley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Partial anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears comprise an estimated 10% to 27% of isolated ACL injuries. Partial ACL tears may be challenging to clinically diagnose. We reviewed relevant studies focusing on the anatomy, diagnosis, imaging, and treatment of a partial injury with the goal of providing guidance to clinicians. Although a comprehensive patient history, thorough clinical examination, and imaging studies are helpful in arriving at a diagnosis, the benchmark for diagnosis remains visualization and examination of the ACL at the time of knee arthroscopy. Currently, limited data exist about the long-term outcomes of nonsurgical treatment. Some studies demonstrate that younger, active patients have the risk of progressing to a complete ACL rupture with conservative treatment. The decision to proceed with surgery is based on careful history and physical examination findings that suggest either a "functional"or "nonfunctional"ACL. Surgical treatment consists of augmenting the intact bundle with a selective bundle reconstruction versus a traditional ACL reconstruction. Selective bundle reconstruction has limited data available but is an option. The best evidence supports traditional ACL reconstruction for the surgical management of patients with documented nonfunctional partial tears of the ACL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-70
Number of pages11
JournalThe Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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