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Effect of Time on MRI Appearance of Graft After ACL Reconstruction: A Comparison of Autologous Hamstring and Quadriceps Tendon Grafts

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posted on 30.09.2021, 05:03 by JA Panos, Brian Meldan DevittBrian Meldan Devitt, Julian FellerJulian Feller, Haydn KlemmHaydn Klemm, TE Hewett, Kate WebsterKate Webster
Background: After anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction (ACLR), changes in the appearance of the ACL graft can be monitored using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate and compare the MRI signal intensity (SI) of hamstring and quadriceps tendon grafts during the first postoperative year after ACLR. As a secondary aim, the relationship of SI to clinical and anatomic measurements was analyzed. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2. Methods: A total of 78 patients who underwent ACLR with an autologous graft were reviewed; 55 received hamstring grafts and 23 received quadriceps tendon grafts. At 3 and 9 months postoperatively, 3-T MRI was performed using a dedicated knee coil, and the median SI of the intra-articular ACL graft was measured on sagittal-plane images. Postoperative lateral radiographs were analyzed to determine medial and lateral posterior tibial slope (PTS). Side-to-side difference in anterior knee laxity between injured and uninjured limbs was measured at 6 and 12 months postoperatively. Results: The median SI of quadriceps grafts was significantly greater than hamstring grafts at 3 months after ACLR (P =.02). Between 3 and 9 months, the median SI of quadriceps grafts decreased (P <.001), while that of hamstring grafts did not significantly change (P =.55). The lateral PTS was significantly correlated with median SI measurements at 3 and 9 months such that greater lateral PTS values were associated with greater median SI. The side-to-side difference in anterior knee laxity decreased for the quadriceps group (P =.04) between 6 and 12 months but did not change for the hamstring group (P =.88). Conclusion: The median SI of quadriceps grafts significantly decreased on MRI between 3 and 9 months after ACLR, while the median SI of hamstring grafts did not significantly change. The change in MRI appearance of the quadriceps grafts was paralleled by a reduction in anterior knee laxity between 6 and 12 months after surgery. In the absence of standardized imaging techniques and imaging analysis methods, the role of MRI in determining graft maturation, and the implications for progression through rehabilitation to return to sport, remain uncertain.


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Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine











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