Treatment of the multiligament-injured knee remains controversial.

To compare clinical and functional outcomes of a consecutive series of multiligament-injured knees that underwent repair of the fibular collateral ligament (FCL) and posterolateral corner (PLC), followed by delayed cruciate ligament reconstructions, with those that had single-stage multiligament reconstruction.

Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods Patients with multiligament knee injury treated by a single surgeon were identified in our prospective database. Between February 2004 and May 2005, patients underwent repair of medial- and lateral-sided injuries, followed by delayed cruciate ligament reconstructions. Between May 2005 and February 2007, patients underwent single-stage multiligament knee reconstruction. All patients followed a standard rehabilitation protocol. Inclusion criteria were minimum 2-year follow-up and multiligament knee injury including the FCL/PLC. International Knee Documentation Committee subjective and Lysholm scores and objective clinical data were documented.

We identified 45 knees (42 patients); 17 knees (14 patients) were excluded, leaving 28 knees (28 patients) in the study. The repair/staged group (10 knees in 10 patients) had a mean follow-up of 34 months (range, 24-49 months). The reconstruction group (18 knees in 18 patients) had a mean follow-up of 28 months (range, 24-41 months). Four of the 10 FCL/PLC repairs (40%) and 1 of the 18 FCL/PLC reconstructions (6%) failed (P = .04). After revision reconstructions, there were no statistically significant differences between mean International Knee Documentation Committee subjective scores (79 vs. 77, P = .92) and mean Lysholm scores (85 vs 88, P = .92). Regression analysis showed no effect on failure based on age, sex, injury mechanism, time to surgery, interval between stages, total number of ligaments injured, or location of tear.

Our series demonstrated a statistically significant higher rate of failure for repair compared with reconstruction of the FCL/PLC. Reconstruction of the FCL/PLC structures is a more reliable option than repair alone in the setting of a multiligament knee injury.