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Knee News

What Works Best for ACL Reconstruction: Autograft or Allograft?

What's your guess? Is there any long-term difference in results between allograft and autograft repairs of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)? An allograft is tissue taken from a donor, not the patient. An autograft is tissue harvested from the patient.

In this study, researchers predicted no difference when results were compared five years later. They did think patients in the autograft group would have more pain and less function early on compared to the allograft group.

They were right on both counts. Using pain, joint motion, muscle strength, and ligament laxity as measures, both groups were about the same after five years. There was a reported difference between the groups during the first three months.

The autograft group had more pain and less function but less laxity than the allograft group. This means the allograft group had less pain and more function but also more joint laxity. At the end of one year, participants in the allograft group were more likely to say their knees were back to "normal."

The results of this study show that either allograft or autograft reconstructions of ACL tears are acceptable in the long-run. They both provide joint stability. Allografts have fewer problems in the early days and weeks after surgery.


Gary G. Poehling, MD, et al. Analysis of Outcomes of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Repair With 5-Year Follow-up: Allograft versus Autograft. In Arthroscopy. July 2005. Vol. 21. No. 7. Pp. 774-785.

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