Purpose: To evaluate the clinical advantages of a navigation system developed with an emphasis on attaining an appropriate femoral tunnel length and posterior wall margin with no posterior wall blowout, as well as having accurate tunnel positioning, in anatomical anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR).
Methods: Ten freshly frozen human knees were transected at mid-femur and mid-tibia. Each knee specimen underwent arthroscopic single-bundle anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction using the outside-in technique, with two knees by manual ACLR (control group) and another eight knees by only the navigational ACLR without arthroscopic assistance (experimental group). The position/orientation information of tunnel entry point, tunnel length, and posterior wall distance of pre-, intra-, and postoperative tunnel were recorded, and the reliability and errors among them were evaluated.
Results: From comparison of the 3D models for preoperative planning and postoperative reconstruction, the mean differences for navigational femoral tunnelling and arthroscopic-assisted femoral tunnelling were recorded, respectively: (1) tunnel entry position, 1.4 mm (SD 0.3) versus 4.9 mm; (2) tunnel length, 0.7 mm (SD 0.2), similar to 0.6 mm in arthroscopic-assisted femoral tunnelling, and (3) posterior wall distance, 0.5 mm (SD 0.2), much smaller than 4.7 mm for arthroscopic-assisted femoral tunnelling. The intraclass correlation coefficients, calculated to determine the accuracy and reliability of navigational femoral tunnelling, showed excellent internal consistency that ranged from 0.965 to 0.989 for tunnel length and from 0.810 to 0.953 for posterior wall distance.
Conclusion: Navigation systems with enhancement of the registration accuracy by the developed system are feasible in anatomical ACLR, in reducing surgical failures such as short tunnel length or posterior wall breakage of distal femur. The present study revealed that computer navigation could aid in avoiding major mistakes in exact positioning and posterior wall blowout and help in attaining appropriate length for femoral tunnelling in anatomical ACLR.
Keywords: ACL; Anatomical reconstruction; Computed tomography; Navigation; Outside-in technique.