Purpose: Anatomic double-bundle ACL reconstruction can be performed using different grafts, such as quadriceps tendon. Grafts can be split in either coronal or sagittal planes to approximate the two bundles of the native ACL, but it is unknown whether a difference exists in the graft tensile properties depending on splitting plane. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the tensile properties of split human quadriceps tendon-bone grafts.
Methods: Twenty full-thickness quadriceps tendon-bone grafts were prepared to mimic grafts for double-bundle ACL reconstruction. Ten grafts were split in the sagittal plane, and ten were split in the coronal plane. Each graft underwent cyclic creep testing and load-to-failure testing to compare creep, ultimate load, ultimate elongation, stiffness, and tangent modulus between splitting planes. All parameters were compared between splitting groups (significance p < 0.05).
Results: Lateral halves of grafts split in the sagittal plane exhibited a percent creep of 42.5 ± 12.4 %, ultimate load of 445 ± 210 N, ultimate elongation of 7.3 ± 1.9 mm, stiffness of 75.7 ± 19.9 N/mm, and tangent modulus of 174.0 ± 99.8 MPa. No differences were found between halves within split tendons or between splitting planes (n.s.).
Conclusions: Overall, splitting quadriceps tendon grafts for anatomic double-bundle ACL reconstruction results in similar tensile properties regardless of splitting plane. Surgeons can split quadriceps tendon in either splitting plane, but should take care to preserve fibres as much as possible. This study provides data that support the use of both coronal and sagittal splits of quadriceps tendons for anatomic double-bundle ACL reconstruction.
Keywords: ACL reconstruction; Mechanical properties; Quadriceps tendon; Structural properties; Tendon graft.