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Int Orthop. 2012 Apr;36(4):845-52. doi: 10.1007/s00264-011-1333-4. Epub 2011 Aug 9.

Tunnel position and graft orientation in failed anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: a clinical and imaging analysis.

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Bioengineering Laboratory, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, 55 Fruit St., GRJ 1215, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



It has been reported that technical error in positioning the graft tunnel is the most common problem in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. The objective of this study was to quantitatively evaluate femoral and tibial tunnel positions and intra-articular graft orientation of primary ACL reconstruction in patients who had undergone revision ACL reconstruction. We postulated that this patient cohort had a nonanatomically positioned tunnel and graft orientation.


Twenty-six patients who had undergone a revision ACL were investigated. Clinical magnetic resonance (MR) images prior to revision were analysed. Three-dimensional models of bones and tunnels on the femur and tibia were created. Intra-articular graft orientation was measured in axial, sagittal and coronal planes. Graft positions were measured on the tibial plateau as a percentage from anterior to posterior and medial to lateral; graft positions on the femur were measured using the quadrant method.


Sagittal elevation angle for failed ACL reconstruction graft (69.6° ± 13.4°) was significantly greater (p < 0.05) than that of the native anteromedial (AM) and posterolateral (PL) bundles of the ACL (AM 56.2° ± 6.1°, PL 55.5° ± 8.1°). In the transverse plane, the deviation angle of the failed graft (37.3° ± 21.0°) was significantly greater than native ACL bundles. The tibial tunnel in this patient cohort was placed posteromedially and medially to the anatomical AM and PL bundles, respectively. The femoral tunnel was placed anteriorly to the anatomical AM and PL bundles.


This study reveals that both the tibial and femoral tunnel positions and consequently the intra-articular graft orientation in this patient group with failed ACL reconstruction were nonanatomical when compared with native ACL values. The results can be used to improve tunnel placement in ACL reconstruction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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