I've recently learned how to spot a torn ACL from a normal one on an MRI. Fun party trick huh? I'm no expert though so don't send me your MRI images :)
A couple normal ACLs:
If you look at the arrows you can see the black band which represents the ACL. It's supposed to be solid and undisturbed/uninterrupted.
A couple torn ACLs:
This ACL is completely messed up. Probably a full tear. You can't see really any black band at all.
Partial tear? I'm no expert. The ligament is bowed which is also bad I guess.
My ACL is definitely interrupted (sort of like the movie Girl, Interrupted? I'm working on the sequel: ACL, Interrupted). Some could argue it's still attached if you look close enough. It's also not bowed which means it's not very lax? Hmm. The MRI reader called my ACL a high-grade partial tear which means at least 50% of the ACL is disrupted. Also, I think because there is black on both ends of the ACL, that is what they mean by "fibers still intact". I'm no expert but I don't see 50% interrupted. One of my docs thinks the MRI was "over-read". Either way, it's a moot point really. A partial tear, no matter how partial will require surgery if the knee is not stable or the ACL does not heal. Only time will tell... Jessica