Overlap Between Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Anterolateral Meniscal Root Insertions: A Scanning Electron Microscopy Study

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Abstract

Background:

The anterolateral meniscal root (ALMR) has been reported to intricately insert underneath the tibial insertion of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Previous studies have begun to evaluate the relationship between the insertion areas and the risk of iatrogenic injuries; however, the overlap of the insertions has yet to be quantified in the sagittal and coronal planes.

Purpose:

To investigate the insertions of the human tibial ACL and ALMR using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and to quantify the overlap of the ALMR insertion in the coronal and sagittal planes.

Study Design:

Descriptive laboratory study.

Methods:

Ten cadaveric knees were dissected to isolate the tibial ACL and ALMR insertions. Specimens were prepared and imaged in the coronal and sagittal planes. After imaging, fiber directions were examined to identify the insertions and used to calculate the percentage of the ACL that overlaps with the ALMR instead of inserting into bone.

Results:

Four-phase insertion fibers of the tibial ACL were identified directly medial to the ALMR insertion as they attached onto the tibial plateau. The mean percentage of ACL fibers overlapping the ALMR insertion instead of inserting into subchondral bone in the coronal and sagittal planes was 41.0% ± 8.9% and 53.9% ± 4.3%, respectively. The percentage of insertion overlap in the sagittal plane was significantly higher than in the coronal plane (P = .02).

Conclusion:

This study is the first to quantify the ACL insertion overlap of the ALMR insertion in the coronal and sagittal planes, which supplements previous literature on the insertion area overlap and iatrogenic injuries of the ALMR insertion. Future studies should determine how much damage to the ALMR insertion is acceptable to properly restore ACL function without increasing the risk for tears of the ALMR.

Clinical Relevance:

Overlap of the insertion areas on the tibial plateau has been previously reported; however, the results of this study demonstrate significant overlap of the insertions superior to the insertion sites on the tibial plateau as well. These findings need to be considered when positioning for tibial tunnel creation in ACL reconstruction to avoid damage to the ALMR insertion.

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