Background: Recently, anatomic anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction is emphasized to improve joint laxity and to potentially avert initiation of cartilage degeneration. There is a paucity of information on the efficacy of ACL reconstructions by currently practiced tunnel creation techniques in restoring normal joint laxity.
Study design: Controlled laboratory study.
Hypothesis: Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction by the anteromedial (AM) portal technique, outside-in (OI) technique, and modified transtibial (TT) technique can equally restore the normal knee joint laxity and ACL forces.
Methods: Eight fresh-frozen human cadaveric knee specimens were tested using a robotic testing system under an anterior tibial load (134 N) at 0°, 30°, 60°, and 90° of flexion and combined torques (10-N·m valgus and 5-N·m internal tibial torques) at 0° and 30° of flexion. Knee joint kinematics, ACL, and ACL graft forces were measured in each knee specimen under 5 different conditions (ACL-intact knee, ACL-deficient knee, ACL-reconstructed knee by AM portal technique, ACL-reconstructed knee by OI technique, and ACL-reconstructed knee by TT technique).
Results: Under anterior tibial load, no significant difference was observed between the 3 reconstructions in terms of restoring anterior tibial translation (P > .05). However, none of the 3 ACL reconstruction techniques could completely restore the normal anterior tibial translations (P < .05). Under combined tibial torques, both AM portal and OI techniques closely restored the normal knee anterior tibial translation (P > .05) at 0° of flexion but could not do so at 30° of flexion (P < .05). The ACL reconstruction by the TT technique was unable to restore normal anterior tibial translations at both 0° and 30° of flexion under combined tibial torques (P < .05). Forces experienced by the ACL grafts in the 3 reconstruction techniques were lower than those experienced by normal ACL under both the loading conditions.
Conclusion: Anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions by AM portal, OI, and modified TT techniques are biomechanically comparable with each other in restoring normal knee joint laxity and in situ ACL forces.
Clinical relevance: Anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions by AM portal, OI, and modified TT techniques result in similar knee joint laxities. Technical perils and pearls should be carefully considered before choosing a tunnel creating technique.