The amount of resistance provided by the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) to axial tibial rotation remains controversial. The goal of this study was to test the primary hypotheses that ACL transection would not significantly affect tibial rotation under the large impulsive loads associated with a simulated pivot landing but would increase anterior tibial translation.Methods:
Twelve cadaveric knees (mean age of donors [and standard deviation] at the time of death, 65.0 ± 10.5 years) were mounted in a custom testing apparatus to simulate a single-leg pivot landing. A compound impulsive load was applied to the distal part of the tibia with compression (~800 N), flexion moment (~40 N-m), and axial tibial torque (~17 N-m) in the presence of five trans-knee muscle forces. A differential variable reluctance transducer mounted on the anteromedial aspect of the ACL measured relative strain. With the knee initially in 15° of flexion, and after five combined compression and flexion moment (baseline) loading trials, six trials were conducted with the addition of either internal or external tibial torque (internal or external loading), and then six baseline trials were performed. The ACL was then sectioned, six baseline trials were repeated, and then six trials of either the internal or the external loading condition, whichever had initially resulted in the larger relative ACL strain, were carried out. Tibiofemoral kinematics were measured optoelectronically. The results were analyzed with a nonparametric Wilcoxon signed-rank test.Results:
Following ACL transection, the increase in the normalized internal tibial rotation was significant but small (0.7°/N-m ± 0.3°/N-m to 0.8°/N-m ± 0.3°/N-m, p = 0.012), while anterior tibial translation increased significantly (3.8 ± 2.9 to 7.0 ± 2.9 mm, p = 0.017).Conclusions:
ACL transection leads to a small increase in internal tibial rotation, equivalent to a 13% decrease in the dynamic rotational resistance, under the large forces associated with a simulated pivot landing, but it leads to a significant increase in anterior tibial translation.Clinical Relevance:
An ACL reconstruction that restores both ligament orientation and stiffness will provide major resistance to anterior tibial translation while providing minor resistance to axial tibial rotation.