A comparison of five tibial-fixation systems in hamstring-graft anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction
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The weak point in an ACL reconstruction immediately after surgery is the tibial fixation of the graft. This factor will often limit the return to load-inducing activities. Many new hamstring-graft fixation devices have been introduced for cruciate ligament reconstruction, but there is little comparative data on their performance. This work tested the hypotheses that some of these devices will resist graft slippage under cyclic loads better than others, and that some will have higher ultimate strength than others. Five devices were tested: WasherLoc, Intrafix fastener; and RCI, Delta Tapered, and Bicortical interference screws. Cyclic loads representing normal walking activity (1000 cycles from 70 to 220 N) and ultimate strength tests were done, using calf tibiae (similar bone density to young human tibiae) and four-strand tendon grafts, with eight tests of each device for each of cyclic and ultimate tensile strength tests. A series of graft creep tests under cyclic loads was also done. The results showed that there was no significant difference in graft construct elongation under cyclic loads (range 0.7–1.3 mm) after allowing for 0.4 mm mean graft creep. The WasherLoc gave the highest ultimate strength (945 N, p <0.001, range 490–945 N). We concluded that all devices performed well under cyclic loads that represented normal walking activity, but the ultimate strengths differed. The performance under cyclic load was better than has been published for conventional interference screws. This evidence suggests that it may now be safe to mobilise younger patients less cautiously immediately after hamstring-graft ACL reconstruction.
KeywordsACL Reconstruction Graft Fixation Strength
We thank the fixation device manufacturers Arthrex, Arthrotek, Mitek, and Smith and Nephew for donating their products and lending their instruments for this study. The Instron machine was donated by the Arthritis Research Campaign, a UK-based charity.
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