Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Graft Preference Most Dependent on Patient Age: A Survey of United States Surgeons

Published:February 01, 2021DOI:


      The purpose of this study was to define the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction (ACLR) graft preference of surgeons and to explore factors associated with their predilection.


      A 15-question survey regarding ACLR graft preference in various situations was completed by 514 American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Association of North America surgeons. Surgeon and practice demographics, along with various patient factors, were evaluated with bivariate and multivariable models for association with surgeon preference. Surgeons were also queried about their preference for their own ACLR. For surgeons who personally sustained an ACL, an additional 6 questions inquired about their experience.


      Surgeons reported the 5 most important factors in patient graft choice, in order: patient age, graft failure in literature and practice, pivot sport, and patient preference. Autograft patellar and quadriceps tendon were strongly preferred for younger, pivoting athletes (P < .001), among those with fellowship training (47% vs 33%, P = .006), in academic practices (52% vs 44%, P = .003), and in more sports medicine–specific practices, with a higher number of ACLRs performed per year (P < .001). Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest surgeons had lower hamstring autograft preference (P < .001). Non-fellowship-trained surgeons preferred hamstring autograft (P = .010). Allograft was preferred for older patients (P < .001). Nonsignificant predictors included highest level of athlete for whom an ACLR had been performed, level of athlete serving as team physician, and years in practice. No factors were associated with surgeon preference for their own ACLR despite deeming these factors important for patients. ACL tears were reported by 13% of respondents, with 86% stating it influenced their decision to enter orthopaedics.


      Patient age was the most important factor in graft choice, with patellar and quadriceps tendon autograft the preferred graft for ACLR for younger, pivoting athletes. Fellowship training and practice demographics were also correlated with graft choice for patients.

      Clinical Relevance

      Graft preference for ACLR varies among surgeons and is associated with surgeon experience and patient characteristics, including patient age, type of sport, and patient preference.
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