Techniques in Pediatric Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

      Abstract: In recent years, the frequency of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and ACL reconstruction (ACLR) in skeletally immature patients has increased. Because distal femoral and proximal tibial physes account for the majority of lower-extremity growth, surgical technique and graft selection are crucial to minimize iatrogenic physeal injury. Combined extra- and intra-articular, all-epiphyseal, and transphyseal with soft-tissue grafts are the most common ACLR techniques used in children. Combined extra- and intra-articular ACLR typically is offered to prepubescent patients with ≥2 years of growth remaining. This technique uses iliotibial band (ITB) autograft passed over the lateral femoral condyle and fixed to the anterior tibial periosteum. All-epiphyseal ACLR is similarly used in patients with ≥2 years of growth remaining, provided sufficient epiphyseal maturity to accommodate an all-epiphyseal socket because both the femoral and tibial tunnels are contained within the epiphyses. In postpubertal patients with <2 years of growth remaining, transphyseal ACLR using a soft-tissue autograft (typically hamstring or quadriceps tendon) and metaphyseal femoral fixation can be performed. This minimizes risk of physeal injury. In borderline patients with approximately 2 years of growth remaining, an additional option includes partial transphyseal ACLR, which uses a soft-tissue graft and a transphyseal tibial tunnel, but an all-epiphyseal or over-the-top femoral graft trajectory. Recently, transphyseal ITB ACLR and hybrid transphyseal hamstring with combined over-the-top ITB ACLR also have been described. Existing clinical studies focused on pediatric and adolescent ACL reconstructions have reported a wide range of graft rupture rates for these techniques (4.3%-25%), with contralateral ACL injury rates of 2.9% to 15.6%. Ongoing multicenter research is underway to directly compare surgical techniques for this demographic and quantify graft rupture rates and other clinical outcomes.
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