Background: There are still controversies about graft selection for primary anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Prospective randomized long-term studies are needed to determine the differences between the materials.
Hypothesis: Five years after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, there is a difference between hamstring and patellar tendon grafts in development of degenerative knee joint disease.
Study design: Randomized controlled trial; Level of evidence, 1.
Methods: From June 1999 to March 2000, 64 patients were included in this prospective study. A single surgeon performed primary arthroscopically assisted anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in an alternating sequence. In 32 patients, anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction was performed with hamstring tendon autograft, whereas in the other 32 patients, anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction was performed with patellar tendon autograft.
Results: At the 5-year follow-up, no statistically significant differences were seen with respect to the Lysholm score, clinical and KT-2000 arthrometer laxity testing, anterior knee pain, single-legged hop test, or International Knee Documentation Committee classification results; 23 patients (82%) in the hamstring tendon group and 23 patients (88%) in the patellar tendon group returned to their preinjury activity levels. Graft rupture occurred in 2 patients from the hamstring tendon group (7%) and in 2 patients from the patellar tendon group (8%). Grade B abnormal radiographic findings were seen in 50% (13/26) of patients in the patellar tendon group and in 17% (5/28) of patients in the hamstring tendon group (P = .012).
Conclusion: Both hamstring and patellar tendon grafts provided good subjective outcomes and objective stability at 5 years. No significant differences in the rate of graft failure were identified. Patients with patellar tendon grafts had a greater prevalence of osteoarthritis at 5 years after surgery.