The long-term effect of hamstring tendon harvest for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction on muscle morphology is not well documented. Our hypothesis was that harvest of the hamstring tendons for ACL reconstruction would result in persistent loss of volume and cross-sectional area of the gracilis and semitendinosus muscles.Methods:
Magnetic resonance images were made of both limbs of ten patients nine to eleven years after they had ACL reconstruction with ipsilateral hamstring autograft. The volume of the individual thigh muscles bilaterally was calculated. The peak cross-sectional area and the cross-sectional area 7 cm proximal to the joint line was measured for the gracilis and semitendinosus muscles. Data were evaluated with use of the paired t test and Wilcoxon signed-rank test. The gracilis and semitendinosus muscles on the operatively treated side were evaluated for fatty infiltration and tendon regeneration.Results:
The mean volume on the operatively treated side was 54.2% of that on the noninvolved side for the gracilis muscle and 58.5% for the semitendinosus muscle. A 7% decrease in quadriceps volume and an 8% increase in the volume of the long head of the biceps on the operatively treated extremity were noted. The semimembranosus muscle and short head of the biceps muscle showed no difference in volume. The gracilis and semitendinosus muscles also showed a decrease in peak cross-sectional area, a decrease in the cross-sectional area 7 cm proximal to the joint line, and evidence of fatty infiltration. There was variable evidence of tendon or scar formation within the tendon bed, with most patients having some tissue that blended into either the sartorius muscle or medial gastrocnemius fascia at a level proximal to the joint line.Conclusions:
At nine to eleven years after ACL reconstruction with ipsilateral hamstring autograft, the gracilis and semitendinosus muscles showed persistent atrophy on the operatively treated side with evidence of fatty infiltration and variability in tendon regeneration. There was also persistent atrophy of the quadriceps muscles and compensatory hypertrophy of the long head of the biceps.Level of Evidence:
Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.