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Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction using autologous double hamstrings: a comparison of standard versus minimal debridement techniques using MRI to assess revascularisation


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Animal studies have shown that implanted anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) grafts initially undergo a process of revascularisation prior to remodelling, ultimately increasing mechanical strength. We investigated whether minimal debridement of the intercondylar notch and the residual stump of the ruptured ACL leads to earlier revascularisation in ACL reconstruction in humans. We undertook a randomised controlled clinical trial in which 49 patients underwent ACL reconstruction using autologous four-strand hamstring tendon grafts. Randomised by the use of sealed envelopes, 25 patients had a conventional clearance of the intercondylar notch and 24 had a minimal debridement method. Three patients were excluded from the study. All patients underwent MR scanning postoperatively at 2, 6 and 12 months, together with clinical assessment using a KT-1000 arthrometer and International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) evaluation. All observations were made by investigators blinded to the surgical technique. Signal intensity was measured in 4 mm diameter regions of interest along the ACL graft and the mid-substance of the posterior cruciate ligament.

Our results indicate that minimal debridement leads to earlier revascularisation within the mid-substance of the ACL graft at two months (paired t-test, p = 0.002). There was a significant reduction of mid-substance signal six months after the minimal debridement technique (paired t-test, p = 0.00007). No statistically significant differences were found in tunnel placement, incidence of Cyclops lesions, blood loss, IKDC scores, range of movement or Lachman test between the two groups.

Correspondence should be sent to Mr S. Gohil; e-mail: satgohil@hotmail.com

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