Comparing ACL Tendon GraftsTears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee are fairly common, especially among athletes. ACL tears most often require surgery. Most people who tear the ACL are younger and active. They want the best knee function possible after ACL surgery. Surgeons are constantly trying to fine tune their ACL reconstructions.
This author studied the difference between two common types of tendon graft. The semitendinosus tendon is from one of the hamstring muscles on the inside edge of the thigh. The patellar tendon is attached to the kneecap. Both have been used successfully to reconstruct the ACL.
This study looked at 40 male soccer players in Germany. All had ACL tears repaired by the same surgeon using the same technique. All followed the same rehabilitation program. But some had semitendinosus tendon grafts, and some had patellar tendon grafts. Both groups were tested at least two years after surgery. They answered the usual questions about their activities and knee function. They did the usual tests of strength while bending and straightening the leg. They were also tested doing jumps and squats and walking.
The results were similar for both groups in the usual questions and strength tests. However, the functional tests showed important differences. The group who had semitendinosus grafts flexed their knee more fully during jumps and squats. They depended less on the muscles surrounding the knee. They also walked with a more even gait.
The author notes that standard strength tests and questions did not show the differences between the groups. The results of the extra tests seems clear. According to this study, semitendinosus grafts gave better knee function than patellar tendon grafts.
Thorsten Rudroff. Functional Capability Is Enhanced with Semitendinosus than Patellar Tendon ACL Repair. In Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. September 2003. Vol. 35. No. 9. Pp. 1486-1492.
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