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Am J Sports Med. 2000 Jul-Aug;28(4):556-61.

Regeneration of the semitendinosus tendon harvested for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Evaluation using ultrasonography.

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Orthopaedic Clinic of the University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy.


In a prospective study, 40 consecutive patients who underwent anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction with doubled semitendinosus and gracilis tendon autografts were examined pre- and postoperatively by ultrasound to investigate the anatomy of the donor site before and after the harvest of the tendons. The patients underwent ultrasonography at 2 weeks and 1, 2, 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months postoperatively. A total of 298 postoperative sonographic evaluations were performed. The semitendinosus tendon was imaged in the sagittal and axial planes: structure and margins were evaluated with the sagittal views; thickness and width were measured with the axial views. In all cases the following sequence of healing was documented: 2 weeks after surgery the semitendinosus tendon site was occupied by an area of increased thickness and decreased echogenicity, suggesting the presence of traumatic edema of the soft tissue surrounding the tenotomy. At 1 month, an irregular hypoechoic structure appeared in a near-anatomic position; at 2 months after surgery, thickness, width, and cross-sectional area of this structure were significantly greater than preoperatively. The amount of regenerated tissue increased up to that seen in the tissue of the 6-month examinations, which also showed a more uniform echostructure. The scans performed at 1 year showed distinct edges and reduction in thickness and width. At 18 and 24 months the echogenicity of the structure occupying the donor site was very similar to that of the normal semitendinosus tendon. However, this structure was clearly identified about 4 cm proximal to the pes anserinus, revealing a more proximal insertion of the regenerated semitendinosus tendon.

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