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Periosteal wrapping of the hamstring tendon autograft improves graft healing and prevents tunnel widening after anterior cruciate ligament anatomic reconstruction.

INTRODUCTION: The periosteum is a readily available tissue at the hamstring harvest site that could be utilized to enhance graft healing and prevent tunnel widening without additional cost or morbidity. This study aimed to compare graft healing using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and functional clinical outcome scores in a matched cohort of patients who underwent anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction with hamstring autografts with or without periosteal augmentation.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Forty-eight patients who underwent ACL reconstruction (ACLR) were prospectively enrolled: 25 with standard ACLR (ST-ACLR) and 23 with periosteal augmented grafts (PA-ACLR). The same surgical techniques, fixation methods, and postoperative protocol were used in both groups. Signal-to-noise quotient (SNQ), graft healing at the bone-graft interface, graft signal according to the Howell scale, and femoral tunnel widening were evaluated using MRI after 1 year of follow-up. International knee documentation score (IKDC), Lysholm, Tegner activity scale, and visual analog scale for pain were used for functional evaluation at a minimum of 2 years postoperative.

RESULTS: The mean SNQ of the proximal part of the graft was 9.6 ± 9.2 and 2.9 ± 3.3 for the ST-ACLR and PA-ACLR groups, respectively (P = 0.005). The mean femoral tunnel widening was 30.3% ± 18.3 and 2.3% ± 9.9 for the ST-ACLR, PA-ACLR groups, respectively (P < 0.001). Complete graft tunnel healing was observed in 65% and 28% of cases in the PA-ACLR and ST-ACLR groups, respectively. Both groups showed marked improvements in functional scores, with no statistically significant differences.

CONCLUSION: Periosteal wrapping of hamstring tendon autografts is associated with better graft healing and maturation and lower incidence of femoral tunnel widening based on MRI analysis 1 year after ACL reconstruction. However, patient-reported outcomes and measured laxity were similar between the two groups at 2 years follow up.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Trail registration number: PACTR202308594339018, date of registration: 1/5/2023, retrospectively registered at the Pan African Clinical Trial Registry (pactr.samrc.ac.za) database.

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