Ideal Combination of Anatomic Tibial and Femoral Tunnel Positions for Single-Bundle ACL Reconstruction

Orthop J Sports Med. 2022 Jan 19;10(1):23259671211069960. doi: 10.1177/23259671211069960. eCollection 2022 Jan.


Background: Anatomic anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) is preferred over nonanatomic ACLR. However, there is no consensus on which point the tunnels should be positioned among the broad anatomic footprints.

Purpose/hypothesis: To identify the ideal combination of tibial and femoral tunnel positions according to the femoral and tibial footprints of the anteromedial (AM) and posterolateral (PL) anterior cruciate ligament bundles. It was hypothesized that patients with anteromedially positioned tunnels would have better clinical scores, knee joint stability, and graft signal intensity on follow-up magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) than those with posterolaterally positioned tunnels.

Study design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: A total of 119 patients who underwent isolated single-bundle ACLR with a hamstring autograft from July 2013 to September 2018 were retrospectively investigated. Included were patients with clinical scores and knee joint stability test results at 2-year follow-up and postoperative 3-dimensional computed tomography and 1-year postoperative MRI findings. The cohort was divided into 4 groups, named according to the bundle positions in the tibial and femoral tunnels: AM-AM (n = 33), AM-PL (n = 26), PL-AM (n = 29), and PL-PL (n = 31).

Results: There were no statistically significant differences among the 4 groups in preoperative demographic data or postoperative clinical scores (Lysholm, Tegner, and International Knee Documentation Committee subjective scores); knee joint stability (anterior drawer, Lachman, and pivot-shift tests and Telos stress radiographic measurement of the side-to-side difference in anterior tibial translation); graft signal intensity on follow-up MRI; or graft failure.

Conclusion: No significant differences in clinical scores, knee joint stability, or graft signal intensity on follow-up MRI were identified between the patients with anteromedially and posterolaterally positioned tunnels.

Keywords: ACL; anatomy; knee ligaments; magnetic resonance imaging.