Purpose: To evaluate the cause of recurrent pathologic instability after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery and the effectiveness of revision reconstruction using a quadriceps tendon autograft using a 2-incision technique.
Type of study: Retrospective follow-up study.
Methods: Between 1999 and 2001, 31 patients underwent ACL revision reconstruction because of recurrent pathologic instability during sports or daily activities. Twenty-eight patients were reviewed after a mean follow-up of 4.2 years (range, 3.3 to 5.6 years). The mean age at revision surgery was 27 years (range, 18 to 41 years). The average time from primary procedure to revision surgery was 26 months (range, 9 to 45 months). A clinical, functional, and radiographic evaluation was performed. Also magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scanning was performed. The International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC), Lysholm, and Tegner scales were used. A KT-1000 arthrometer measurement (MEDmetric, San Diego, CA) by an experienced physician was made.
Results: Of the failures, 79% had radiographic evidence of malposition of their tunnels. In only 6 cases (21%) was the radiologic anatomy of tunnel placement judged to be correct on both the femoral and tibial side. The MRI or CT showed, in 6 cases, a too-centrally placed femoral tunnel. After revision surgery, the position of tunnels was corrected. A significant improvement of Lachman and pivot-shift phenomenon was observed. In particular, 17 patients had a negative Lachman test, and 11 patients had a grade I Lachman with a firm end point. Preoperatively, the pivot-shift test was positive in all cases, and at last follow-up in 7 patients (25%) a grade 1+ was found. Postoperatively, KT-1000 testing showed a mean manual maximum translation of 8.6 mm (SD, 2.34) for the affected knee; 97% of patients had a maximum manual side-to-side translation <5 mm. At the final postoperative evaluation, 26 patients (93%) graded their knees as normal or nearly normal according to the IKDC score. The mean Lysholm score was 93.6 (SD, 8.77) and the mean Tegner activity score was 6.1 (SD, 1.37). No patient required further revision. Five patients (18%) complained of hypersensitive scars from the reconstructive surgery that made kneeling difficult.
Conclusions: There were satisfactory results after ACL revision surgery using quadriceps tendon and a 2-incision technique at a minimum 3 years' follow-up; 93% of patients returned to sports activities.
Level of evidence: Level IV, case series, no control group.