An In Vitro Robotic Assessment of the Anterolateral Ligament, Part 2: Anterolateral Ligament Reconstruction Combined With Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

Marco Nitri, Matthew T Rasmussen, Brady T Williams, Samuel G Moulton, Raphael Serra Cruz, Grant J Dornan, Mary T Goldsmith, Robert F LaPrade
American Journal of Sports Medicine 2016, 44 (3): 593-601

BACKGROUND: Recent biomechanical studies have demonstrated that an extra-articular lateral knee structure, most recently referred to as the anterolateral ligament (ALL), contributes to overall rotational stability of the knee. However, the effect of anatomic ALL reconstruction (ALLR) in the setting of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction (ACLR) has not been biomechanically investigated or validated.

PURPOSE/HYPOTHESIS: The purpose of this study was to investigate the biomechanical function of anatomic ALLR in the setting of a combined ACL and ALL injury. More specifically, this investigation focused on the effect of ALLR on resultant rotatory stability when performed in combination with concomitant ACLR. It was hypothesized that ALLR would significantly reduce internal rotation and axial plane translation laxity during a simulated pivot-shift test compared with isolated ACLR.

STUDY DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study.

METHODS: Ten fresh-frozen cadaveric knees were evaluated with a 6 degrees of freedom robotic system. Knee kinematics were evaluated with simulated clinical examinations including a simulated pivot-shift test consisting of coupled 10-N·m valgus and 5-N·m internal rotation torques, a 5-N·m internal rotation torque, and an 88-N anterior tibial load. Kinematic differences between ACLR with an intact ALL, ACLR with ALLR, and ACLR with a deficient ALL were compared with the intact state. Single-bundle ACLR tunnels and ALLR tunnels were placed anatomically according to previous quantitative anatomic attachment descriptions.

RESULTS: Combined anatomic ALLR and ACLR significantly improved the rotatory stability of the knee compared with isolated ACLR in the face of a concurrent ALL deficiency. During a simulated pivot-shift test, ALLR significantly reduced internal rotation and axial plane tibial translation when compared with ACLR with an ALL deficiency. Isolated ACLR for the treatment of a combined ACL and ALL injury was not able to restore stability of the knee, resulting in a significant increase in residual internal rotation laxity. ALLR did not affect anterior tibial translation; no significant differences were observed between the varying ALL conditions with ACLR except between ACLR with an intact ALL and ACLR with a deficient ALL at 0° of flexion.

CONCLUSION: In the face of a combined ACL and ALL deficiency, concurrent ACLR and ALLR significantly improved the rotatory stability of the knee compared with solely reconstructing the ACL.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Significant increases in residual internal rotation and laxity during the pivot-shift test may exist in both acute and chronic settings of an ACL deficiency and in patients treated with isolated ACLR for a combined ACL and ALL deficiency. For this subset of patients, surgical treatment of the ALL, in addition to ACLR, should be considered to restore knee stability.

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