Reconstructed anterior cruciate ligaments using patellar tendon ligament grafts: diagnostic value of contrast-enhanced MRI in a 2-year follow-up regimen

Eur Radiol. 2001;11(8):1450-6. doi: 10.1007/s003300100870.


We analyzed prospectively the diagnostic efficacy of contrast-enhanced MRI following anterior cruciate neoligament (ACL) reconstruction. One hundred fifty-six MR examinations were performed 2, 12, 52, 76, and 104 weeks post-operatively on 68 patients with ACL transplants. Sagittal, parasagittal, and coronal images using unenhanced T1- and T2-weighted spinecho sequences, and post-contrast images utilizing T1-weighted spinecho and fat-saturated sequences, were acquired. Results were correlated with those of the pivot shift, Lachman, and a mechanical test. The MR examination criteria included morphological analysis, signal intensity, transplant contrast enhancement, secondary signs (e.g., elongation of normal ligaments), and comparison with clinically standardized test results. Two weeks post-operatively all neoligaments showed homogeneous low signal intensity on T1- and T2-weighted spinecho sequences indistinguishable from that of normal cruciate or patellar ligaments [contrast-to-noise ratio (C/N) on T1: 1.6], with a 9% percentile enhancement. At 12-52 weeks, signal intensity increased (C/N: 6.7), with a mean 50% percentile enhancement. The 1-year follow-up allowed no definite assessment of the neoligament's course. At 76 and 104 weeks, significant decrements in signal intensity (C/N: 3.0) and ligamentous percentile enhancement (25%) occurred. All patients tested displayed stable transplants 2 years post-operatively. Contrast-enhanced MRI allows accurate evaluation of morphology and function up to 3 months postoperatively and 1-2 years following ACL reconstructive surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / pathology
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery*
  • Contrast Media*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patellar Ligament / transplantation*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium DTPA