Graft Size and Orientation Within the Femoral Notch Affect Graft Healing at 1 Year After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

Takeshi Oshima, Sven Putnis, Samuel Grasso, Antonio Klasan, David Anthony Parker
American Journal of Sports Medicine 2020, 48 (1): 99-108

BACKGROUND: The combined influence of anatomic and operative factors affecting graft healing after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction within the femoral notch is not well understood.

PURPOSE: To determine the influence of graft size and orientation in relation to femoral notch anatomy, with the signal/noise quotient (SNQ) of the graft used as a measure of graft healing after primary single-bundle ACL reconstruction.

STUDY DESIGN: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

METHODS: A total of 98 patients with a minimum 2-year follow-up after primary single-bundle ACL reconstruction with hamstring tendon autografts were included. Graft healing was evaluated at 1 year on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan as the mean SNQ measured from 3 regions situated at sites at the proximal, middle, and distal graft. Patient characteristics, chondropenia severity score, tunnel sizes, tunnel locations, graft bending angle (GBA), graft sagittal angle, posterior tibial slope (PTS), graft length, graft volume, femoral notch volume, and graft-notch volume ratio (measured using postoperative 3-T high-resolution MRI) were evaluated to determine any association with 1-year graft healing. The correlation between 1-year graft healing and clinical outcome at minimum 2 years was also assessed.

RESULTS: There was no significant difference in mean SNQ between male and female patients ( P > .05). Univariate regression analysis showed that a low femoral tunnel ( P = .005), lateral tibial tunnel ( P = .009), large femoral tunnel ( P = .011), large tibial tunnel ( P < .001), steep lateral PTS ( P = .010), steep medial PTS ( P = .004), acute graft sagittal angle ( P < .001), acute GBA ( P < .001), large graft volume ( P = .003), and high graft-notch volume ratio ( P < .001) were all associated with higher graft SNQ values. A multivariate regression analysis showed 2 significant factors: a large graft-notch volume ratio ( P = .001) and an acute GBA ( P = .004). The 1-year SNQ had a weak correlation with 2-year Tegner Activity Scale score ( r = 0.227; P = .026) but no other clinical findings, such as International Knee Documentation Committee subjective and Lysholm scores and anterior tibial translation side-to-side difference.

CONCLUSION: The 1-year SNQ value had a significant positive association with graft-notch volume ratio and GBA. Both graft size and graft orientation appeared to have a significant influence on graft healing as assessed on 1-year high-resolution MRI scan.

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