Background: The pivot shift is a dynamic test of knee stability that involves a pathologic, multiplanar motion path elicited by a combination of axial load and valgus force during a knee flexion from an extended position.
Purpose: To assess the stabilizing effect of the medial and lateral meniscus on anterior cruciate ligament-deficient (ACL-D) knees during the pivot shift examination.
Study design: Controlled laboratory study.
Methods: A Lachman and a mechanized pivot shift test were performed on 16 fresh-frozen cadaveric hip-to-toe lower extremity specimens. The knee was tested intact, ACL-D, and after sectioning the medial meniscus (ACL/MM-D; n = 8), lateral meniscus (ACL/LM-D; n = 8), and both (ACL/LM/MM-D; n = 16). A navigation system recorded the resultant anterior tibial translations (ATTs). For statistical analysis an analysis of variance was used; significance was set at P < .05.
Results: The ATT significantly increased in the ACL-D knee after lateral meniscectomy (ACL/LM-D; P < .05) during the pivot shift maneuver. In the lateral compartment of the knee, ATT in the ACL-D knee increased by 6 mm after lateral meniscectomy during the pivot shift (16.6 +/- 6.0 vs 10.5 +/- 3.5 mm, P < .01 for ACL/LM out vs ACL out). Medial meniscectomy, conversely, had no significant effect on ATT in the ACL-D knee during pivot shift examination (P > .05). With standardized Lachman examination, however, ATT significantly increased after medial but not lateral meniscectomy compared with the ACL-D knee (P < .001).
Conclusion: Although the medial meniscus functions as a critical secondary stabilizer to anteriorly directed forces on the tibia during a Lachman examination, the lateral meniscus appears to be a more important restraint to anterior tibial translation during combined valgus and rotatory loads applied during a pivoting maneuver.
Clinical relevance: This model may have implications in the evaluation of surgical reconstruction procedures in complex knee injuries.