Can anatomic femoral tunnel placement be achieved using a transtibial technique for hamstring anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction?

  • Strauss E
  • Barker J
  • McGill K
 et al. 
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Background: Recent studies have emphasized the importance of anatomic tunnel placement during anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction in an effort to restore normal knee kinematics and stability. Secondary to the constraints imposed by a coupled drilling technique, the ability to achieve an anatomic femoral tunnel during transtibial hamstring ACL reconstruction may be limited.
Hypothesis: The size limitations imposed by the small-diameter tibial tunnel used in hamstring ACL reconstruction would preclude the ability to place an anatomic femoral tunnel.
Study Design: Descriptive laboratory study.
Methods: In a descriptive laboratory study, fresh-frozen human cadaveric knees fixed at 90° of flexion were dissected to expose the centers of the native femoral and tibial ACL insertions. The geometry and location of each insertion were evaluated. Using a standardized starting point, tibial tunnels were drilled to the center of the tibial insertion using an 8-mm reamer. Next, a 6-mm over-the-top guide was used to position as close as possible to the anatomic femoral ACL insertion on the lateral wall, and femoral tunnels were drilled with the 8-mm reamer. For each tunnel, the location, geometry, and percentage overlap with the native insertion site were evaluated using a 3-dimensional laser scanner.
Results: The reamed tibial tunnel was central within the insertion site, occupying 40.4% ± 2.0% of the native tibial insertion. Transtibial drilling resulted in femoral tunnels that were superior and posterior compared with the native femoral insertion. Thefemoral tunnel had a mean ± SD overlap of 30.0% ± 12.6% with the femoral insertion, with the center of the tunnel 7.6± 0.5 mm from the center of the native ACL femoral insertion.
Conclusion: Based on our data using our specific starting point, during hamstring ACL reconstructions, the constraints imposed by a coupled drilling technique result in nonanatomic femoral tunnels that are superior and posterior to the native femoral insertion.
Clinical Relevance: Anatomic femoral tunnel placement during hamstring ACL reconstructions may not be possible using a coupled, transtibial drilling approach.

Author-supplied keywords

  • anterior cruciate ligament
  • hamstring ACL reconstruction
  • transtibial technique

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  • Eric J. Strauss

  • Joseph U. Barker

  • Kevin McGill

  • Brian J. Cole

  • Bernard R. Bach

  • Nikhil N. Verma

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