Tibial tunnel enlargement after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction by autogenous bone-patellar tendon-bone graft

  • M. D. Peyrache
  • P. Djian
  • P. Christel
  • J. Witvoet
Knee Injuries


This retrospective study was designed to evaluate changes in the diameter of the tibial tunnel over time following the reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) with a bone-patellar tendon-bone autograft in 44 patients. The changes in the geometry of the bone tunnels were measured radiographically during the immediate postoperative period and at time intervals between 3 and 36 months after surgery. The dimensions at 1 year were correlated with the 1-year clinical results. The distance between the sclerotic margins of the tibial tunnel was measured at the distal tunnel exis on the medial tibial cortex, in the middle of the tunnel, and proximally at the level of the joint line. The dimensions were calculated by using a magnification factor determined by reference to the interference screw of known diameter located within the tunnel. The position of the centre of the tibial tunnel with regard to Blumensaat's line was also measured. The average tunnel diameter at the proximal tibial exit increased from 12±1.9 mm (mean ± standard deviation) postoperatively to 14±2.2 mm at 3 months. The average proximal tunnel diameter did not significantly change from 3 months to 2 years, and then decreased to 13±2.4 mm at 3 years. At 1 year, most of the patterns of osteolysis were of the cone type (57%), followed by the cavity type (40%) and line type (3%). The degree of osteolysis was not related to the tibial tunnel position with respect to Blumensaat's line. There was no correlation between the changes in tunnel diameter and either the IKDC score or the residual joint laxity measured by a KT-1000 arthrometer. The aetiology of tunnel enlargement is currently unknown. Possible factors responsible for bone resorption include micromotion of the graft relative to the tunnel wall, leading to an inflammatory response in the tunnel, or stress shielding of the tunnel wall proximal to the interference screw.

Key words

Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction Autograft Tibial tunnel Tunnel enlargement 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. D. Peyrache
    • 1
  • P. Djian
    • 1
  • P. Christel
    • 2
  • J. Witvoet
    • 1
  1. 1.Orthopaedic DepartmentHospital Saint LouisParisFrance
  2. 2.Clinique NolletParisFrance

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