Graft bending angle affects allograft tendon maturity early after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction
The aim of this study was to clarify the association of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) graft bending angle and graft maturity of autograft and allograft tendons using high-resolution MRI.
Patients with unilateral ACL reconstruction were invited to participate in this study, and they were examined using a 3.0-T MRI scan at 3, 6 and 12 months after the operation. Anatomic single-bundle ACL reconstruction was performed on 48 patients using the trans-portal technique, including 28 with autograft hamstring tendons and 20 with allograft tendons. To evaluate graft healing, the signal/noise quotient (SNQ) was measured in four regions of interest (ROIs) of the femoral tunnel, proximal, midsubstance and distal ACL grafts. The graft bending angle was defined as the angle between the femoral bone tunnel and the line connecting the femoral and tibial tunnel apertures. Graft SNQ and graft bending angle were assessed at 3, 6 and 12 months postoperatively, and the association between SNQ and the average graft bending angle was analyzed.
Generally, the mean graft bending angle of this cohort increased gradually with time. The SNQ value of each graft region increased from 3 to 6 months and then decreased from 6 to 12 months. In the whole cohort, the graft bending angle had a significant positive association with graft SNQ in the femoral tunnel or proximal site. In the allograft subgroup, the graft bending angle had a significant positive association with the graft SNQ in the femoral tunnel or proximal site at 6 months after surgery, while there was no association between the graft bending angle and SNQ at 12 months. In the autograft subgroup, the graft bending angle had a significant positive association with graft SNQ in the femoral tunnel or proximal site at 12 months after surgery.
Generally, the graft bending angle was correlated with a high signal intensity of the proximal graft in the early postoperative period for allograft tendons and in the late postoperative period for allograft tendons. This suggests that the biomechanical effect from the graft bending angle on graft healing may be different for allografts and autografts after ACL reconstruction.
Level of evidence
KeywordsMRI ACL Autograft Allograft SNQ Graft bending angle
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors report no conflict of interest.
The Health Sciences Institutional Review Board of our hospital approved this study (the Ethics Committee of Ningbo First Hospital, Approval number 2013-0110).
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