Engagement of the Secondary Ligamentous and Meniscal Restraints Relative to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament Predicts Anterior Knee Laxity

Robert N. Kent, Carl W. Imhauser*, Ran Thein, Niv Marom, Thomas L. Wickiewicz, Danyal H. Nawabi, Andrew D. Pearle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Patients with high-grade preoperative side-to-side differences in anterior laxity as assessed via the Lachman test after unilateral anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture are at heightened risk of early ACL graft failure. Biomechanical factors that predict preoperative side-to-side differences in anterior laxity are poorly understood. Purpose: To assess, in a cadaveric model, whether the increase in anterior laxity caused by sectioning the ACL (a surrogate for preoperative side-to-side differences in anterior laxity) during a simulated Lachman test is associated with two biomechanical factors: (1) the tibial translation at which the secondary anterior stabilizers, including the remaining ligaments and the menisci, begin to carry force, or engage, relative to that of the ACL or (2) the forces carried by the ACL and secondary stabilizers at the peak applied anterior load. Study Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: Seventeen fresh-frozen human cadaveric knees underwent Lachman tests simulated through a robotic manipulator with the ACL intact and sectioned. The net forces carried by the ACL and secondary soft tissue stabilizers (the medial meniscus and all remaining ligaments, measured as a whole) were characterized as a function of anterior tibial translation. The engagement points of the ACL (with the ACL intact) and each secondary stabilizer (with the ACL sectioned) were defined as the anterior translation at which they began to carry force, or engaged, during a simulated Lachman test. Then, the relative engagement point of each secondary stabilizer was defined as the difference between the engagement point of each secondary stabilizer and that of the ACL. Linear regressions were performed to test each association (P <.05). Results: The increase in anterior laxity caused by ACL sectioning was associated with increased relative engagement points of both the secondary ligaments (β = 0.87; P <.001; R2 = 0.75) and the medial meniscus (β = 0.66; P <.001; R2 = 0.58). Smaller changes in anterior laxity were also associated with increased in situ medial meniscal force at the peak applied load when the ACL was intact (β = −0.06; P <.001; R2 = 0.53). Conclusion: The secondary ligaments and the medial meniscus require greater anterior tibial translation to engage (ie, begin to carry force) relative to the ACL in knees with greater changes in anterior laxity after ACL sectioning. Moreover, with the ACL intact, the medial meniscus carries more force in knees with smaller changes in anterior laxity after ACL sectioning. Clinical Relevance: Relative tissue engagement is a new biomechanical measure to characterize in situ function of the ligaments and menisci. This measure may aid in developing more personalized surgical approaches to reduce high rates of ACL graft revision in patients with high-grade laxity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-116
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • ACL reconstruction
  • graft rupture
  • laxity
  • ligament engagement
  • meniscus

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