Evaluation of Anterolateral Ligament Healing After Anatomic Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

Am J Sports Med. 2020 Apr;48(5):1078-1087. doi: 10.1177/0363546520908805. Epub 2020 Mar 16.

Abstract

Background: Few studies have reported the healing process of anterolateral ligament (ALL) injuries.

Purpose/hypothesis: This study investigated the healing status of ALL injuries after primary anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction (ACLR). Additionally, we investigated the association between the healing status of ALL injuries and associated lesions such as osseous lesions and meniscal tears occurring at the time of an ACL rupture. We hypothesized that acute ALL injuries show a high rate (more than two-thirds) of healing at the 1-year follow-up after ACLR and that concomitant lesions observed at the time of an ACL rupture affect the healing status of the ALL.

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

Methods: We retrospectively investigated patients with ALL injuries who underwent primary ACLR between March 2015 and February 2017. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), we evaluated the features of ALL injuries and concomitant lesions, and MRI was performed at the 1-year follow-up to assess the healing status of the ALL. We investigated the association between the healing status of the ALL and concomitant lesions observed at the time of an ACL rupture. A subjective assessment was performed using the Lysholm score, International Knee Documentation Committee subjective score, and Tegner activity scale. Objective tests included an isokinetic strength assessment and functional performance testing.

Results: With respect to the severity of ALL injuries, of 54 patients, a complete rupture occurred in 16 (29.6%) of the 54 patients and a partial rupture in 38 (70%). A significant association was observed between the severity of ALL injuries and bone contusions (lateral tibial plateau and medial tibial plateau [MTP]) and meniscus ramp lesions (Fisher exact test: P = .023, .012, and .023, respectively). Good and partial healing of the ALL occurred in 16 (29.6%) and 23 (42.6%) of 54 patients, respectively. Scar formation occurred in 12 (22.2%), and nonvisualization of the ALL was observed in 3 (5.6%) of 54 patients. Poor healing of the ALL was associated with preoperative MTP bone contusions and a high-grade pivot shift. Multivariate analysis showed that an MTP bone contusion was an independent risk factor associated with poor healing of the ALL. Among the functional tests performed, significant differences were observed between the good and poor healing groups with respect to the carioca test (P = .039). The good healing group (n = 16) showed a negative pivot shift at the last follow-up, whereas 5 (13.2%) of the patients from the poor healing group (n = 38) showed a positive pivot shift, including 2 (5.3%) with a high-grade pivot shift.

Conclusion: Approximately 70% of acute ALL injuries showed poor healing at the 1-year follow-up. Poor healing of ALL injuries was significantly associated with preoperative MTP bone contusions and a high-grade pivot shift. Therefore, a careful assessment of posteromedial bone contusions at the time of an ACL rupture is warranted, particularly in patients with a high-grade pivot shift.

Keywords: MRI; anterior cruciate ligament; anterolateral ligament; bone contusion; pivot shift; ramp lesion; rotatory laxity.

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries* / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability* / surgery
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Ligaments
  • Retrospective Studies