The Effect of Hamstring Tendon Autograft Harvest on the Restoration of Knee Stability in the Setting of Concurrent Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Medial Collateral Ligament Injuries

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Abstract

Background:

A hamstring autograft is commonly used in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction (ACLR); however, there is evidence to suggest that the tendons harvested may contribute to medial knee instability.

Hypothesis:

We tested the hypothesis that the gracilis (G) and semitendinosus (ST) tendons significantly contribute to sagittal, coronal, and/or rotational knee stability in the setting of ACLR with a concurrent partial medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury.

Study Design:

Controlled laboratory study.

Methods:

Twelve human cadaveric knees were subject to static forces applied to the tibia including an anterior-directed force as well as varus, valgus, and internal and external rotation moments to quantify laxity at 0°, 30°, 60°, and 90° of flexion. The following ligament conditions were tested on each specimen: (1) ACL intact/MCL intact, (2) ACL deficient/MCL intact, (3) ACL deficient/partial MCL injury, and (4) ACLR/partial MCL injury. To quantify the effect of muscle loads, the quadriceps, semimembranosus, biceps femoris, sartorius (SR), ST, and G muscles were subjected to static loads. The loads on the G, ST, and SR could be added or removed during various test conditions. For each ligament condition, the responses to loading and unloading the G/ST and SR were determined. Three-dimensional positional data of the tibia relative to the femur were recorded to determine tibiofemoral rotations and translations.

Results:

ACLR restored anterior stability regardless of whether static muscle loads were applied. There was no significant increase in valgus motion after ACL transection. However, when a partial MCL tear was added to the ACL injury, there was a 30% increase in valgus rotation (P < .05). ACLR restored valgus stability toward that of the intact state when the G/ST muscles were loaded. A load on the SR muscle without a load on the G/ST muscles restored 19% of valgus rotation; however, it was still significantly less stable than the intact state.

Conclusion:

After ACLR in knees with a concurrent partial MCL injury, the absence of loading on the G/ST did not significantly alter anterior stability. Simulated G/ST harvest did lead to increased valgus motion. These results may have important clinical implications and warrant further investigation to better outline the role of the medial hamstrings, particularly among patients with a concomitant ACL and MCL injury.

Clinical Relevance:

A concurrent ACL and MCL injury is a commonly encountered clinical problem. Knowledge regarding the implications of hamstring autograft harvest techniques on joint kinematics may help guide management decisions.

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