An Evaluation of the Association Between Radiographic Intercondylar Notch Narrowing and Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury in Men: The Notch Angle Is a Better Parameter Than Notch Width

Arthroscopy. 2015 Oct;31(10):2004-13. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2015.04.088. Epub 2015 Jun 10.


Purpose: To evaluate the association of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries with the intercondylar notch angle and notch width in male patients. The secondary purpose was to evaluate the association of these injuries with other novel morphologic parameters.

Methods: Male patients undergoing primary ACL reconstruction between 2010 and 2013 for injury through noncontact mechanisms with preoperative magnetic resonance imaging were compared with an age-matched control group of male patients (patients who underwent knee operations other than ACL reconstruction) regarding the following magnetic resonance imaging-assessed parameters: intercondylar notch angle, width, and depth; condylar width; medial/lateral condylar widths; medial/lateral posterior tibial plateau slopes; anterior sagittal tibial slope (corresponding to the level of the tibial ACL footprint); coronal tibial slope; and angle between the Blumensaat line and anterior tibial slope.

Results: In both the coronal and axial planes, patients with ACL injury had a significantly lower intercondylar notch angle (P < .001 and P = .008, respectively) than the control group, but there were no significant between-group differences for intercondylar notch width (P = .9 and P = .97, respectively). In the sagittal plane, patients with ACL injury had significantly higher medial (P < .001) and lateral (P = .02) posterior tibial slopes, a significantly lower anterior tibial slope (P = .01), and a significantly higher angle between the Blumensaat line and anterior tibial slope (P = .02) than the control group.

Conclusions: Narrowing of the intercondylar notch may be associated with ACL injury in male patients. However, the intercondylar notch angle may be a better parameter to evaluate notch narrowing and its potential association with ACL injuries compared with the notch width. The association between the angle formed by the Blumensaat line and anterior tibial slope and ACL injuries in male patients needs more investigation. This study further suggests that increased posterior tibial slope may be associated with ACL injury in male patients.

Level of evidence: Level III, case-control study.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Epiphyses / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tibia / anatomy & histology*