Purpose: To analyse possible associations between the preoperative pivot shift (PS) test and both patient and injury characteristics in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)-injured knees, considering previously neglected meniscal injuries such as ramp and root tears. The hypothesis was that a preoperative grade III PS was associated with the amount of intra-articular soft-tissue damage and chronicity of the injury. Methods: The cohort involved 376 patients who underwent primary ACL reconstruction (239 males/137 females; median age 26). Patients were examined under anesthesia before surgery, using the PS test. During arthroscopy, intra-articular soft-tissue damage of the injured knee was classified as: (1) partial ACL tear; (2) complete isolated ACL tear; (3) complete ACL tear with one meniscus tear; and (4) complete ACL and bimeniscal tears. Chi-square and Mann–Whitney U tests were used to evaluate whether sex, age, body mass index, sport at injury, mechanism of injury, time from injury and intra-articular damage (structural damage of ACL and menisci) were associated with a grade III PS. Intra-articular damage was further analyzed for two sub-cohorts: acute (time from injury ≤ 6 months) and chronic injuries (> 6 months). Results: A grade III PS test was observed in 26% of patients. A significant association with PS grading was shown for age, time from injury and intra-articular soft-tissue damage (p < 0.05). Further analyses showed that grade III PS was associated with intra-articular damage in chronic injuries only (p < 0.01). In complete ACL and bimeniscal tears, grade III PS was more frequent in chronic (53%) than in acute knee injuries (26%; p < 0.01). Patients with chronic complete ACL and bimeniscal tears had a grade III PS 3.3 [1.3–8.2] times more often than patients in the acute sub-cohort. Conclusion: In ACL-injured patients, a preoperative grade III PS was mainly associated with a higher amount of intra-articular soft-tissue damage and chronicity of the injury. Patients with complete chronic ACL injuries and bimeniscal tears were more likely to have a preoperative grade III PS than their acute counterparts. This suggests that grade III PS may be an early sign of knee decompensation of dynamic rotational knee laxity in chronic ACL-injured knees with bimeniscal lesions. Level of evidence: Level III.
- Anterior cruciate ligament
- Intra-articular soft-tissue damage
- Knee decompensation
- Pivot shift test
- Rotatory laxity