The effect of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction on restoring normal knee kinematics in unstable knees with physiologic laxity of secondary ligamentous restraints remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the stabilizing function of an ACL reconstruction and the resulting ACL graft forces in knees with severely abnormal anterior subluxation due to associated laxity of secondary restraints.Methods:
A 6-degree-of-freedom robotic simulator was used to test 21 cadaveric knees studied as a whole and in subgroups of lax secondary restraints (Lax-SR) and intact secondary restraints (Intact-SR), based on abnormal translations and tibial rotations. Native, ACL-sectioned, and ACL-reconstructed conditions were tested. An instrumented bone-patellar tendon-bone (BPTB) graft measured ACL graft forces. The loading profile involved the Lachman test (25° of flexion and 100-N anterior load), anterior tibial loading (100-N anterior load across 10° to 90° of flexion), internal rotation (25° of flexion and 5-Nm torque), and 2 pivot-shift simulations (100-N anterior load, 7-Nm valgus, and either 5 Nm of internal rotation [Pivot Shift 1] or 1 Nm of internal rotation [Pivot Shift 2]). Equivalence between conditions was defined as being within 2 mm for compartment translation and within 2° for internal tibial rotation, with p < 0.05.Results:
ACL sectioning increased center translation in the Lachman test by a mean of 10.9 mm (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.3 to 12.5 mm; p = 0.99), which was equivalent to native values after ACL reconstruction in all knees (mean difference, 0.0 mm [95% CI, −0.4 to 0.4 mm]; p = 0.0013), and in subgroups of Lax-SR (mean difference, 0.2 mm [95% CI, −0.5 to 0.8 mm]; p = 0.03) and Intact-SR (mean difference, −0.2 mm [95% CI, –0.8 to 0.4 mm]; p = 0.002). ACL sectioning in the pivot-shift (5-Nm) test increased lateral compartment translation to non-native-equivalent levels, which were restored to native-equivalent values after ACL reconstruction in all knees (mean difference, 0.9 mm [95% CI, 0.4 to 1.4 mm]; p = 0.055), in the Intact-SR subgroup (mean difference, 1.1 mm [95% CI, 0.5 to 1.8 mm]; p = 0.03), and to nearly native-equivalence in the Lax-SR subgroup (mean difference, 0.6 mm [95% CI, −0.3 to 1.6 mm; p = 0.06). The highest ACL graft force reached a mean of 190.9 N in the pivot-shift (5-Nm) test.Conclusions:
The ACL reconstruction restored native kinematics and native rotational stability in all knees, including knees having laxity of secondary ligamentous restraints and clinically equivalent Grade-3 pivot-shift subluxation, and did so at ACL graft forces that were not excessive.Clinical Relevance:
An ACL reconstruction with a BPTB graft restored normal stability parameters regardless of the integrity of secondary ligamentous restraints.