Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy

, Volume 26, Issue 12, pp 3537–3546 | Cite as

Graft failure is more frequent after hamstring than patellar tendon autograft

  • E. LabouteEmail author
  • E. James-Belin
  • P. L. Puig
  • P. Trouve
  • E. Verhaeghe



The risk of graft failure after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructions with hamstring or patellar tendon was evaluated in a French population of athletes.


Athletes who had undergone ACL autograft reconstruction and who received rehabilitation care at the European Center for Sports Rehabilitation (CERS; Capbreton, France) were screened for this prospective cohort study. Eligibility criteria included a simple hamstring autograft or patellar tendon autograft surgical technique. Patients were contacted by phone to participate in follow-up during the second year after surgery. The primary endpoint was the graft failure frequency, evaluated with a multivariate logistic model with adjustment for baseline patient characteristics. The secondary endpoint was time to graft failure, analyzed by an adjusted Cox model.


A total of 2424 athletes were included after having a hamstring autograft (semitendinosus and gracilis) or a patellar tendon autograft between 2011 and 2014. Of the 988 athletes who responded to a follow-up phone call (40.7% response rate), 33 were excluded for new contralateral ACL rupture (3.3%), with 955 included for analysis (713 hamstring autografts; 242 patellar-tendon autografts). There were no significant differences between the baseline characteristics of the patients analyzed and the population which did not respond to the questionnaire. A significant difference in the frequency of graft failure was seen, 6.5% for hamstring autografts vs 2.1% for patellar-tendon autografts [adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 3.64, 95% CI (1.55; 10.67); p = 0.007]. Mean time to graft failure was 10.7 vs 17.4 months for hamstring and patellar-tendon autografts respectively [adjusted hazard ratio (HR) = 3.50, 95% CI (1.53; 10.11); p = 0.008]. Age less than 25 years significantly increased the frequency of graft failure [adjusted OR = 3.85 (1.89; 8.72); p < 0.001]. The rate of patients returning to competitive sport after the first graft was not significantly different for the two techniques: 70.8% for hamstring and 77.8% for patellar tendon [adjusted OR = 0.718; 95% CI (0.50; 1.02)].


Graft failure is significantly more frequent after hamstring than patellar tendon autografts in a French population, despite similar rates of return to competition. Athletes aged less than 25 years have a higher risk of failure than those aged ≥ 25 years. Our results are in accordance with recent Scandinavian studies.

Level of evidence



Anterior cruciate ligament Patellar-tendon autograft Hamstring tendon autograft Graft failure Sport Athletes 



No outside funding or grants directly related to the research presented in this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This cohort study was conducted according to the WMA Declaration of Helsinki.

Informed consent

No written consent is necessary for phone’s questions.


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Copyright information

© European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery, Arthroscopy (ESSKA) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.C.E.R.S., Groupe Ramsay-Générale de SantéCapbretonFrance

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