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The Anterolateral Ligament of the Knee: An Updated Systematic Review of Anatomy, Biomechanics, and Clinical Outcomes

Published:December 16, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arthro.2020.12.190

      Purpose

      To perform an updated systematic review of the anatomy, biomechanics, function of the anterolateral ligament (ALL), and the clinical outcomes of anterolateral ligament reconstruction (ALLR) when performed in conjunction with anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR).

      Methods

      A systematic search of the literature was performed by searching PubMed, the Cochrane Library, and Embase with the search phrase anterolateral ligament for articles published from February 2017 to May 2020. Inclusion criteria included studies that evaluated the anatomy, function, or biomechanics of the ALL; surgical technique articles on ALLR; clinical articles reporting outcomes of ALLR; studies published in English; and full-text articles. Exclusion criteria included studies published before February 2017. A subjective synthesis was performed, in which ranges were reported, and individual study data were presented in forest plots.

      Results

      Overall, 40 articles were included in this systematic review, with 11 articles describing ALL anatomy, 14 articles analyzing ALL function and biomechanics, 7 articles discussing the surgical technique of combined ACLR and ALLR (ACLR/ALLR), and 8 articles describing the clinical outcomes of ACLR/ALLR. The addition of ALLR in combination with ACLR (ACLR+) results in lower graft failure rates for ACLR/ALLR (0.0%–15.7%) when compared with isolated ACLR (I-ACLR) patients (7.4%–21.7%). Three of 5 studies using the Subjective International Knee Documentation Committee score, 2 of 5 studies using the Lysholm score, and 1 of 2 studies using the Tegner score reported significantly better scores at latest follow-up among ACLR+ patients compared with I-ACLR (P < .05).

      Conclusions

      The ALL acts as a secondary stabilizer to the anterior cruciate ligament and helps resist internal knee rotation and anterior tibial translation. Based on the current literature, combined ACLR with ALLR may result in lower graft failure rates and improved patient-reported outcomes when compared with I-ACLR in patients with specific indications, although several studies have shown equivalent outcomes between these 2 cohorts.

      Clinical Relevance

      The contents of this review provide great insight for orthopaedic surgeons who are performing ACLR and considering additional procedures to increase overall knee stability and decrease likeliness for re-rupture. The postoperative functional and clinical outcomes shown in patients undergoing ACLR+ compared with I-ACLR should be given proper consideration when evaluating available treatment courses.
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