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Suture Tape Augmentation of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Increases Biomechanical Stability: A Scoping Review of Biomechanical, Animal, and Clinical Studies

Published:January 02, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arthro.2021.12.036

      Purpose

      To (1) assess the available literature reporting on suture tape augmentation in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction and (2) determine what evidence exists to support and oppose the technique in clinical practice.

      Methods

      Five databases were systematically searched on November 24, 2021, following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Technical, animal, biomechanical, and clinical studies were included. Quality appraisal was conducted according to study type. Data were extracted and reported in tabular and narrative form according to the study design.

      Results

      In total, 1276 studies were appraised, with 22 studies including 6 biomechanical, 3 animal, 10 technical, and 3 clinical studies. Biomechanical studies reported tape-augmented grafts to withstand 12.2% to 73.0% greater load to failure and 17.0% to 60.2% reduced elongation compared with standard ACL reconstruction. Evidence of load sharing started at 200 N (7-mm graft) and 300 N (9-mm graft), with suture tape augments taking 31% and 20% of the final load (400 N), respectively, in one study. Among animal studies, no significant differences in complications, rates of ligamentization, histologic findings, or evidence of stress shielding were reported. Technical studies differed primarily in the method of fixation of the proximal end of the tape. Clinically, patient-reported outcome measures were mixed among significant and nonsignificant improvements in International Knee Documentation Committee scores and return to sport among tape-augmented groups, with no difference in complications.

      Conclusions

      Biomechanically, suture tape augmentation of ACL reconstruction increased the strength of the graft complex and reduced elongation, with early evidence of the “safety belt” effect with load-sharing properties at greater loads established. In animal studies, graft maturation and 4-zone bone healing, and equivalent rates of intra-articular complications were detected in ACL reconstruction with suture tape augmentation. In clinical studies, patient-reported outcomes were mixed between improved and equivalent outcomes with and without suture tape augmentation, whereas graft failure was not adequately powered to be assessed.

      Clinical Relevance

      Suture tape augmentation of ACL reconstruction offers a low-cost method of improving initial biomechanical stability of the ACL graft. Animal and clinical data suggest the complication profile associated with synthetic grafts may not be apparent in tape augmentation. Independent suture tape augmentation may be considered with aims to increase the initial stability of the native ACL graft.
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