Study sheds light on 'dark side' of the knee

ORLANDO, FLA -- As orthopedic surgeons come to appreciate the important role of the so-called "dark side of the knee" in the failure of reconstructive knee surgeries, laboratory research led by a Duke University Medical Center investigator has determined the optimal surgical approach to improve the outcomes of these reconstructive surgeries.

Knee damage is the most common sports injury and it usually occurs when there is a tear or break in at least one of the four ligaments of the knee, the most common being the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Orthopedic surgeons will often reconstruct the joint using tissue from the patient or a cadaver. While the surgery and subsequent rehabilitation returns about 90 percent of patients to normal sporting activity, surgeons are finding that instability in a little-studied area of the knee -- the posterolateral corner -- is a leading cause of knee reconstruction failures. The posterolateral corner is the outside region of the knee just posterior to the kneecap.

"To our knowledge, no one has studied the two accepted procedures for dealing with the instability in this 'dark side' of the knee," said Claude T. Moorman III, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and director of the sports medicine program at Duke, who led a team of researchers from the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University and University of Alabama-Birmingham. "While both surgical approaches are effective, our analysis shows that a simpler and quicker approach may be the better of the two."

The results of the team's study were prepared for presentation today (July 1, 2002) at the 28th annual meeting of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM). The study received the 2002 Aircast Award for Basic Science, given annually by the AOSSM. The study was funded by University of the Maryland Sports Medicine, where Moorman served prior to coming to Duke last year.

"This posterolateral corner has been referred to as the 'dark side'

Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center

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