Femoral nerve block at time of ACL reconstruction causes lasting quadriceps strength deficits and may increase short-term risk of re-injury

Abstract

Purpose

To determine whether femoral nerve blockade (FNB) at the time of primary ACL reconstruction is associated with meeting isokinetic extension strength return to sport criteria near completion of physical therapy and whether FNB affects 1-year or 2-year risk of ipsilateral ACL graft rupture or contralateral native ACL injury.

Methods

Three-hundred and sixty patients (n = 244 with FNB, n = 116 no FNB) underwent primary ACL reconstruction. All patients completed rehabilitation and underwent functional strength testing towards the end of knee rehabilitation (mean 5.6 months post-surgery). Association between FNB and isokinetic extension strength limb symmetry index (LSI) (goal LSI ≥ 90% for return to sport) as well as risk of recurrent ACL injury within first or second year after surgery was evaluated.

Results

Ipsilateral or contralateral ACL injury within 2 years occurred in 11.2% of patients with FNB and 5.7% without FNB (p = 0.01). Patients with FNB had higher incidence of ipsilateral graft rupture within the first year after surgery but no difference in graft rupture during the second. Two-year risk of contralateral ACL injury was similar in both groups. At the time of initial testing, patients who received FNB had lower fast isokinetic extension LSI versus patients without FNB and were less likely achieve a goal ≥ 90% LSI; slow extension LSI was unaffected.

Conclusion

Use of FNB at the time of primary ACL reconstruction can negatively affect achievement of isokinetic extension strength return to sport criteria. FNB increases risk of graft rupture within the first year after surgery but does not affect re-injury risk during the second. FNB may not be appropriate for use in patients already at high risk of ACL re-injury.

Level of evidence

III.

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The authors received no funding for this study.

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Correspondence to David C. Flanigan.

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Approval was obtained from the Biomedical Institutional Review Board of The Ohio State University, Study No. 2016H0099.

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Everhart, J.S., Hughes, L., Abouljoud, M.M. et al. Femoral nerve block at time of ACL reconstruction causes lasting quadriceps strength deficits and may increase short-term risk of re-injury. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 28, 1894–1900 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00167-019-05628-7

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Keywords

  • Femoral nerve block
  • ACL reconstruction
  • Quadriceps strength