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Bone Density Distribution Pattern in the Lateral Wall of the Femoral Intercondylar Notch: Implications for the Direct Insertion of the Femoral ACL Attachment.

BACKGROUND: The ideal position of the femoral bone tunnel in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is controversial. The functional importance of the ACL fiber varies depending on where it is attached to the femur. Functionally important fibers can cause high mechanical stress on the bone, and the Wolff law predicts that bone mineral density will increase at high mechanical stress sites.

PURPOSE/HYPOTHESIS: The purpose of this study was to use computed tomography imaging to determine the distribution pattern of bone density in the lateral intercondylar wall. It was hypothesized that the high-density area (HDA) of the lateral intercondylar wall would reflect the functional insertion of the ACL as reported in previous anatomic studies.

STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive epidemiology study.

METHODS: Data from 39 knees without ACL injuries were retrospectively collected. The HDA of the lateral intercondylar wall was defined as the region containing the top 10% of the radiodensity values. The shape of the HDA was approximated as an ellipse, and the quadrant method was used to determine the center of the ellipse. The association between the ratio of the minor axis to the major axis of the ellipse and background characteristics was investigated.

RESULTS: According to the quadrant method, the center of the HDA ellipse was 33.6% in the deep-shallow direction and 23.4% in the high-low direction. The center of the ellipse was comparable to the anatomic center of the ACL footprint, as previously reported. The ratio of the minor axis to the major axis of the ellipse was 0.58 (95% CI, 0.54-0.62). There was a significant negative correlation between the ratio of the minor axis to the major axis of the HDA ellipse and the posterior tibial slope ( r = -0.38, P = .02).

CONCLUSION: The center of the HDA ellipse was found to be similar to the anatomic center of the ACL footprint. Considering the mechanical stress responses in bone, the HDA of the lateral intercondylar wall has the potential to represent the ACL insertion, especially functional insertion.

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