Effect of suturing the femoral portion of a four-strand graft during an ACL reconstruction
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A suture passed along the part of the graft that will be inserted into the femoral tunnel is widely used by surgeons, because it could prevent the graft sliding on the femoral fixation device during pulling from the tibial side. The aim of this study was to evaluate the biomechanical effects of suturing the intratunnel femoral part of the graft during an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction.
Bovine digital extensor tendons and tibias were harvested from 20 fresh-frozen mature bovine knees ranging in age from 18 to 24 months. Quadruple-strand bovine tendons were passed through the tibial tunnel and secured distally with a bioabsorbable interference screw. In one half of all grafts (N = 10), the looped-over part of the graft was sutured in a whipstitch technique over a distance of 30 mm (Group 1). In one half of all grafts (N = 10), the looped-over part was left free from any suture (Group 2). The grafts were preconditioned at 50 N for 10 min, followed by cyclic loading at 1 Hz between 50 N and 250 N for 1,000 cycles. Load-to-failure test was then carried out at a rate of 1 mm/s.
There was no statistically significant difference between mean stiffness at pullout and yield load between the two groups. In all specimens on Group 1, failure occurred following to partial breaking and then slipping of the tendons between the screw and the tunnel. Concerning Group 2, in six cases failure occurred as described for Group 1 specimens. In the remaining four cases, failure occurred entirely through the ligament mid-substance.
Suturing in a whipstitch fashion the femoral portion of the graft doesn’t affect the mechanical proprieties of the ACL graft. When suspension fixation device is used, suturing the looped-over part of the graft could be helpful in order to provide equal tension in all of the strands of the graft at time of tibial fixation.
KeywordsAnterior cruciate ligament ACL reconstruction Graft properties Biomechanics ACL graft
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