No long-term tunnel enlargement following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction using autograft hamstring tendon with dual suspensory fixation Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE:Bone tunnel widening following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) is well documented, although the aetiology and clinical significance of this phenomenon remain unclear. At mid-term follow-up, a greater prevalence of tunnel enlargement has been reported with the use of hamstring (HS) grafts. However, there are paucity of data on what happens in the longer term. The aim of this study was to assess the change in femoral and tibial tunnel dimensions 15 years after four-strand HS ACLR. METHODS:This is a retrospective review of 15 patients who underwent arthroscopic ACLR using HS autograft tendon and were followed up radiographically at 4 months, 2 years and 15 years. Suspensory fixation was used for both ends of the graft. The diameters of the bone tunnels on posteroanterior (PA) and lateral radiographs were measured using digital callipers. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to examine change in tunnel width over time. RESULTS:Radiographic tunnel width did not significantly change between 4 months and 2 years. However, a significant decrease in width was found for both the femoral and tibial tunnels between the 2- and 15-year follow-up (P < 0.01): the femoral tunnel decreased by 50% and 51% in the PA and lateral views, respectively; the tibial tunnel decreased by 77% and 91% in the PA and lateral views respectively. There was no significant correlation between femoral or tibial tunnel width and flexion and extension deficits or with side to side differences in anterior tibial laxity at 15 years. CONCLUSIONS:This radiographic follow-up study of bone tunnel widening following HS ACLR with suspensory fixation demonstrated that tunnel width did not increase beyond 4 months and in fact had decreased significantly at long-term (15 years) follow-up. There was no correlation between tunnel width changes and clinical assessment of flexion and extension deficits or with side-to-side anterior knee laxity at 15-years. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:IV.

publication date

  • July 2020