The drill wobble effect: oversizing the femoral tunnel during ACL reconstruction

Phys Sportsmed. 2018 Feb;46(1):44-47. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2018.1410426. Epub 2017 Dec 2.


Objectives: In ACL reconstruction, autologous tendon graft can be attached to the femur, within a boney tunnel, using an Endobutton device. The ultimate aim being to achieve biological fixation and incorporation into the bone. Accurate bone tunnel diameter to match the tendon graft is vital to biologic incorporation and strength. The common technique of in sequence passing a guide wire, a cannulated 4.5 mm Endobutton drill, then a cannulated femoral socket drill causes the guidewire to lose cortical fixation and stability before the femoral socket drill is passed. The Objective of this study is to analyze this common technique of femoral socket creation and determine if it results in unintentionally oversizing the femoral socket due to femoral socket drill-wobble over a destabilised guide wire.

Methods: 12 cadaveric femoral pairs equally divided between two groups underwent femoral socket creation in one of the two following sequences. Group 1: Guidewire, 4.5 mm endobutton drill, 8 mm femoral socket drill. Group 2: Guidewire, 8 mm femoral socket drill, 4.5 mm endobutton drill. The created femoral tunnels apertures and calibres were measured and then compared for accuracy between the two groups.

Results: Passing the 4.5 mm drill before the 8 mm socket drill results in oversized tunnel apertures and calibres when compared to passing an 8 mm socket drill after the 4.5 mm drill has been passed (p<0.0001).

Conclusion: To most precisely create an 8 mm femoral socket in ACL reconstruction, the 8 mm femoral socket reamer followed by the 4.5 mm should be passed over the guide wire to prevent guide wire destabilization and drill-wobble.

Keywords: ACL; anterior cruciate ligament; arthroscopy; knee.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / methods*
  • Autografts
  • Female
  • Femur / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Tendons / transplantation*
  • Tibia