The functions of the fibre bundles of the anterior cruciate ligament in anterior drawer, rotational laxity and the pivot shift

  • Andrew A. AmisEmail author


This paper reviews the functional anatomy of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which has a parallel array of collagen fascicles that have usually been divided into two ‘fibre bundles’: anteromedial (AM) and posterolateral (PL), according to their tibial attachment sites. The PL bundle has shorter fibres, and so it is subjected to greater tensile strains than the AM bundle when the whole ACL is stretched; its oblique orientation in the coronal plane imbues it with greater ability to resist tibial rotation than the more vertical AM fibre bundle. Most studies have found that the AM bundle is close to isometric when the knee flexes, while the PL bundle slackens approximately 6 mm. There is little evidence of significant fibre bundle elongation in response to tibial rotation. Selective bundle cutting studies have been performed, allowing both the bundle tensions and their contributions to resisting tibial anterior translation and tibial rotation to be calculated. These show that the function of the PL bundle was dominant near knee extension in some studies, particularly when resisting anterior drawer and that its contribution reduced rapidly with knee flexion through 30 degrees. There has been little study of the contributions of the fibre bundles in control of tibial internal–external rotation or the pivot shift: one study found that the AM bundle had larger tensions than the PL bundle during a simulated pivot shift, but another study found that cutting the PL bundle allowed a larger increase in coupled tibial anterior translation than cutting the AM bundle. It was concluded that the AM bundle is most important for resisting tibial anterior drawer—the primary function of the ACL—while the PL bundle is tight near knee extension, when it has a role in control of tibial rotational laxity. There is a clear need for further study of dynamic knee instability, to gain better understanding of how best to reconstruct the ACL and associated tissues.


Anterior cruciate ligament Fibre bundle Rotational laxity Pivot shift Anterior drawer Biomechanics 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Musculoskeletal Surgery GroupImperial College LondonLondonUK

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