The Effect of Autologous Hamstring Graft Diameter on the Likelihood for Revision of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

Am J Sports Med. 2016 Jun;44(6):1475-81. doi: 10.1177/0363546516634011. Epub 2016 Mar 21.


Background: Hamstring autografts for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction (ACLR) have become popular in the past 2 decades; however, it is difficult to predict the diameter of the harvested tendons before surgery. Previous biomechanical studies have suggested that a smaller graft diameter leads to a lower load to failure, but clinical studies looking at various predictors for failure, including graft size, have been inconclusive.

Purpose: To evaluate the relationship of hamstring graft diameter to ACL revision within a large cohort of patients, while controlling for sex, age, body mass index (BMI), and femoral and tibial fixation type.

Study design: Case-control study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: A case-control study using patients registered in an ACLR registry was conducted. Revision was used as a marker for graft failure. A case was defined as a patient who underwent primary ACLR with a hamstring autograft that was revised during the study period (April 2006 to September 2012). Three controls, defined as patients who underwent primary ACLR with a hamstring autograft that was not revised, were matched to each of the cases according to age, sex, BMI, and femoral and tibial fixation type. Descriptive characteristics were employed, and conditional logistic regression was conducted to produce estimates of odds ratios and 95% CIs.

Results: A total of 124 cases and 367 controls were identified. There were no significant differences between cases and controls in the distribution of sex (52.4% male vs 52.9% male, respectively; P = .932), median age (17.6 years [interquartile range (IQR), 15.9-20.4] vs 17.6 years [IQR, 15.9-20.4], respectively; P = .999), median BMI (23.4 kg/m(2) [IQR, 21.5-26.4] vs 23.4 kg/m(2) [IQR, 21.6-25.8], respectively; P = .954), femoral fixation (P = .459), and tibial fixation (P = .766). The mean (±SD) graft diameter was 7.9 ± 0.75 mm in the cases and 8.1 ± 0.73 mm in the controls. The likelihood of a patient needing revision ACLR in the study cohort was 0.82 times lower (95% CI, 0.68-0.98) for every 0.5-mm increase in the graft diameter from 7.0 to 9.0 mm.

Conclusion: In this study, within the range of 7.0 to 9.0 mm, there was a 0.82 times lower likelihood of being a revision case with every 0.5-mm incremental increase in graft diameter.

Keywords: anterior cruciate ligament; failure; graft diameter; hamstring autograft.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / methods*
  • Autografts / anatomy & histology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Femur / surgery
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Registries
  • Reoperation
  • Risk Factors
  • Tendons / anatomy & histology*
  • Tendons / transplantation*
  • Thigh
  • Tibia / surgery
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Young Adult