Presentation and Surgical Management of Multiple Ligament Knee Injuries: A Multicenter Study from the Surgical Timing and Rehabilitation (STaR) Trial for MLKIs Network

Kathleen M. Poploski, Andrew D. Lynch, Travis C. Burns, Christopher D. Harner, Bruce A. Levy, Brett D. Owens, Dustin L. Richter, Robert C. Schenck, Volker Musahl, James J. Irrgang, Robert Arciero, Brandee S. Black, Catherine M. Coady, Jonathan M. Cooper, Katherine J. Coyner, Cory M. Edgar, Al M.J. Getgood, Joe M. Hart, Jonathan D. Hodax, Jonathan D. HughesCale A. Jacobs, Darren L. Johnson, Ryan M. Khan, Jeffrey A. Macalena, Robert G. Marx, Mark D. Miller, Bradley Nelson, Alicia Oostdyk, Charity G. Patterson, Adam J. Popchak, Anil S. Ranawat, Michael J. Stuart, Caroline E. Taber, Ryan J. Warth, Daniel B. Whelan, Isabel Wolfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background:Multiple ligament knee injuries (MLKIs) represent a spectrum of injury patterns that are often associated with concomitant musculoskeletal and neurovascular injuries, complex treatment, and postoperative complications. However, there has not been high-level evidence describing the presentation and treatment of MLKIs. The purpose of this multicenter retrospective study was to describe characteristics of MLKIs, their management, and related complications using a pathoanatomic MLKI classification system based on the Schenck Knee Dislocation classification system.Methods:This review identified and analyzed MLKIs that occurred between 2011 and 2015. Cases with an MLKI were included in this study if there was a complete tear of ≥2 ligaments and at least 1 ligament was repaired or reconstructed. Cases in which a ligament was deemed clinically incompetent due to a partial ligament tear and required surgical repair or reconstruction were considered equivalent to grade-III tears for inclusion and classification. Demographic information, the mechanism of injury, times from injury to presentation to an orthopaedic surgeon and to surgery, the ligament injury pattern, associated injuries, surgical procedures, and complications were captured. Data were analyzed descriptively.Results:A total of 773 individuals from 14 centers who underwent surgery for an MLKI were reviewed. The mean age of the individuals was 30.5 ± 12.7 years, and 74.2% were male. The most common mechanism involved sports (43.2%). The median time from injury to presentation to the orthopaedic surgeon was 11 days (interquartile range [IQR], 3 to 48 days), and the time to initial ligament surgery was 64 days (IQR, 23 to 190 days). While the most common injury patterns were an anterior cruciate ligament tear combined with either a medial-sided (MLK 1-AM, 20.7%) or lateral-sided (MLK 1-AL, 23.2%) injury, one-third (34.7%) were bicruciate injuries. Associated injuries most often involved menisci (55.6%), nerves (18.5%) and tendons (15.6%). The method of surgical intervention (repair versus reconstruction), external fixator use, and staging of procedures varied by MLKI classification. Loss of motion (11.4%) was the most common postoperative complication.Conclusions:A better understanding of the clinical characteristics and management of the various MLKI patterns can be used to support clinical decision-making and individualized treatment of these complex injuries, and may ultimately lead to enhanced outcomes and reduced associated risks.Level of Evidence:Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-613
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 19 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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