Lateral extra-articular reconstruction length changes during weightbearing knee flexion and pivot shift: A simulation study

Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2019 Jun;105(4):661-667. doi: 10.1016/j.otsr.2019.02.020. Epub 2019 Apr 17.


Introduction: Variations in the length of lateral extra-articular reconstruction (LER) have been widely investigated during knee flexion but there is no information about length changes during pivot shift. This study sought to assess the changes in LER tension during weightbearing knee flexion in a normal knee and in a computer-simulated pivot-shift scenario.

Hypothesis: Placing the femoral tunnel posterior and proximal to the lateral femoral epicondyle allows the LER to tighten early in the flexion range during weightbearing (squatting motion) and simulated pivot-shift.

Material and methods: A computer model was used to simulate weightbearing knee flexion and pivot shift scenarios. Changes in LER tension were calculated in both scenarios by estimating the distance between six femoral attachment sites (posterior and proximal to the lateral femoral epicondyle) and two tibial tunnel locations: Gerdy's tubercle (GT) and the anterolateral ligament (ALL) anatomic attachment site.

Results: Independent of the location of the femoral and tibial tunnels, the LER tightened by up to 22% of its resting length during the early portion of weightbearing knee flexion and then relaxed from 40° to 60° of knee flexion. The ALL tibial tunnel position allowed complete LER relaxation at 60° flexion whereas LER using the GT tibial tunnel position remained tighter. In the simulated pivot-shift test, and for all femoral tunnel locations, the LER tightened by 20% to 34% of its resting value for the GT tibial tunnel position and by 11% to 26% for the ALL tibial tunnel position.

Discussion: During weightbearing knee flexion, placing the femoral tunnel proximal and posterior to the femoral epicondyle was associated with LER tightening in the early degrees of flexion and LER relaxation between 40 and 60° flexion. LER tightening occurred during a simulated pivot-shift test supporting the concept that a posterior and proximal femoral LER tunnel position is most effective during weightbearing knee flexion and altered knee kinematics.

Keywords: Anterior cruciate ligament; Anterolateral ligament; Biomechanics; Computer modeling; Knee.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / methods*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computer Simulation
  • Femur / surgery
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Ligaments, Articular / physiology*
  • Ligaments, Articular / surgery*
  • Male
  • Physical Examination
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Tibia / surgery
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology*