Background: The initial tension applied to an anterior cruciate ligament graft at the time of fixation modulates knee motion and the tibiofemoral compressive loads. Purpose: To establish the relationships between initial graft tension, tibiofemoral compressive force, and the neutral tibiofemoral position in the cadaveric knee. Study Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: The tibiofemoral compressive forces and joint positions were determined in the anterior cruciate ligament-intact knee at 0°, 20°, and 90° of knee flexion. The anterior cruciate ligament was excised and reconstructed with a patellar tendon graft using graft tensions of 1, 15, 30, 60, and 90 N applied at 0°, 20°, and 90° of knee flexion. The compressive forces and neutral positions were compared between initial tension conditions and the anterior cruciate ligament-intact knee. Results: Increasing initial graft tension increased the tibiofemoral compressive forces. The forces in the medial compartment were 1.8 times those in the lateral compartment. The compressive forces were dependent on the knee angle at which the tension was applied. The greatest compressive forces occurred when the graft was tensioned with the knee in extension. An increase in initial graft tension caused the tibia to rotate externally compared with the anterior cruciate ligament-intact knee (1.5° and 7.7° of external rotation when tensioned to 90 N at 0° and 90° of knee flexion, respectively). Increases in initial graft tension also caused a significant posterior translation of the tibia relative to the femur (0.9 and 5.3 mm of posterior translation when tensioned to 90 N at 0° and 90° of knee flexion, respectively). Conclusion: Different initial graft tension protocols produced predictable changes in the tibiofemoral compressive forces and joint positions. Clinical Relevance: The tibiofemoral compressive force and neutral joint position were best replicated with a low graft tension (1-15 N) when using a patellar tendon graft.
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation