Outcome measures in clinical ACL studies: an analysis of highly cited level I trials

  • Sufian S. Ahmad
  • Johannes C. Meyer
  • Anna M. Krismer
  • Suhaib S. Ahmad
  • Dimitrios S. Evangelopoulos
  • Sven Hoppe
  • Sandro Kohl



Clinical research in the area of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury has shown substantial growth during the last decade. This was accompanied by the establishment of a wide range of outcome measures used to address the demands of clinical studies. The aim of this study was to evaluate outcome measures reported by highly cited level I trials in ACL research and identify factors influencing citation metrics.


The database of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) was utilized to screen journals under the subject categories “Orthopaedics”, “Sports Sciences”, “Radiology” and “General medicine” for the 50 most cited level I ACL trials based on predefined inclusion criteria. Metadata, citation metrics and outcome measures were extracted for each article. Frequencies of reported outcome measures were calculated, and a multiple linear regression model applied to identify factors influencing citation metrics.


Two independent outcome measures demonstrated an influence on acquisition of citations including: 1—report of the pivot-shift test and 2—inclusion of the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome (KOOS) score. Furthermore, highly cited ACL trials frequently reported KT-1000 measures of anterior translation, range of motion (ROM), graft failure, Lysholm, Tegner and subjective International Knee Documentation (IKDC) scores.


This analysis reflects on the outcome measures utilized in highly cited level I trials impacting the field of ACL research. It also identifies factors likely to influence acquisition of citations. This is of both clinical and academic relevance when choosing appropriate measures for post-operative outcome evaluation after ACL surgery.

Level of evidence



Anterior cruciate ligament ACL Outcome Measures Bibliometrics Randomized trial 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


No funding was received for the conduction of this study.

Ethical approval

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.

Informed consent



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Copyright information

© European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery, Arthroscopy (ESSKA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sufian S. Ahmad
    • 1
  • Johannes C. Meyer
    • 1
  • Anna M. Krismer
    • 1
  • Suhaib S. Ahmad
    • 2
  • Dimitrios S. Evangelopoulos
    • 1
  • Sven Hoppe
    • 1
  • Sandro Kohl
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and TraumatologyInselspital, University Hospital of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.School of MedicineUniversity of BuckinghamBuckinghamUK

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