Using the Remnant Anterior Cruciate Ligament to Improve Knee Stability: Biomechanical Analysis Using a Cadaveric Model

Derek T. Nhan, Stephen M Belkoff, Prerna Singh, Brian T. Sullivan, Walter Klyce, R. Jay Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Injured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tissue retains proprioceptive nerve fibers, vascularity, and biomechanical properties. For these reasons, remnant ACL tissue is often preserved during the treatment of ACL injuries. Purpose: To assess through a cadaveric model whether reorienting and retensioning the residual ACL via an osteotomy improves knee stability after partial ACL tear, with substantial remnant tissue and intact femoral and tibial attachments. Study Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: In 8 adult cadaveric knees, we measured anterior tibial translation and rotational laxity at 30° and 90° of flexion with the ACL in its native state and in 3 conditions: partial tear, retensioned, and ACL-deficient. The partial-tear state consisted of a sectioned anteromedial ACL bundle. Results: In the native state, the translation was 10 ± 2.7 mm (mean ± SD) at 30° of flexion and 8.4 ± 3.6 mm at 90° of flexion. Anterior translation of the knees in the partial-tear state (14 ± 2.7 mm at 30° and 12 ± 2.7 mm at 90°) was significantly greater than baseline (P <.001 for both). Translation in the ACL-retensioned state (9.2 ± 1.7 mm at 30° and 7.2 ± 2.1 mm at 90°) was significantly less than in the ACL-deficient state (P <.001 for both), and translation was not significantly different from that of the intact state. For ACL-deficient knees, translation (20 ± 4.3 mm at 30° and 16 ± 4.4 mm at 90°) was significantly greater than all other states (P <.001 for all). Although rotational testing demonstrated the least laxity at 30° and 90° of flexion in the retensioned and intact states and the most laxity in the ACL-deficient state, rotation was not significantly different among any of the experimental states. Conclusion: In a cadaveric model of an incomplete ACL tear, a reorienting and retensioning core osteotomy at the tibial insertion of the remnant ACL improved anteroposterior translation of the knee without compromising its rotational laxity. Clinical Relevance: The findings of this study support the concept of ACL tissue reorienting and retensioning in the treatment of ACL laxity as an area for future investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • ACL
  • biomechanics of ligament
  • knee
  • knee
  • ligaments
  • osteotomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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