Original Article| Volume 25, ISSUE 10, P1115-1125, October 2009

Tension Degradation of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Grafts With Dynamic Flexion-Extension Loading: A Biomechanical Model in Porcine Knees


      This study investigates the influence of various femoral anterior cruciate ligament graft fixation methods on the amount of tension degradation and the initial fixation strength after cyclic flexion-extension loading in a porcine knee model.


      One hundred twenty porcine digital extensor tendons, used as 4-stranded free tendon grafts, were fixated within porcine femoral bone tunnels by use of extracortical button, cross-pin, or interference screw fixation. One hundred twenty porcine patellar tendon–bone grafts were fixated by use of cross-pin, interference screw, or press-fit fixation. Each femur-graft complex was submitted to cyclic flexion-extension loading for 1,000 cycles throughout different loading ranges, and the total loss of tension was determined. After cyclic testing, the grafts were loaded to failure, and the data were compared with a pullout series without cyclic loading.


      Tension degradation after 1,000 cycles of flexion-extension loading averaged 62.6% ± 10.0% in free tendon grafts and 48.9% ± 13.35% in patellar tendon–bone grafts. There was no influence of the loading range on the total amount of tension degradation. The total amount of tension degradation was the highest with interference screw fixation of free tendon and patellar tendon–bone grafts. Despite excessive loss of tension, the initial fixation strength of the femur-graft complex was not reduced.


      The method of femoral graft fixation significantly influenced tension degradation during dynamic flexion-extension loading. Femoral graft fixation methods that secure the graft close to the tunnel entrance and that displace the graft substance from the center of the bone tunnel show the largest amount of tension degradation during cyclic flexion-extension loading. The graft substance, not the fixation site, was the weakest link of the graft complex within this investigation.

      Clinical Relevance

      We believe that the graft fixation method should be considered when aiming to improve the precision of femoral graft placement in anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.

      Key Words

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