High incidence of partially anatomic tunnel placement in primary single-bundle ACL reconstruction

Andrea Achtnich, Francesco Ranuccio, Lukas Willinger, Jonas Pogorzelski, Andreas B. Imhoff, Sepp Braun, Elmar Herbst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate tunnel position and width in failed primary single-bundle (SB) anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructions. It was hypothesized that both femoral and tibial bone tunnels are frequently malplaced in terms of a partially anatomic position in the setting of failed SB ACL reconstruction. Methods: Patients with recurrent instability following isolated SB ACL reconstruction using hamstring tendon autografts, undergoing revision ACL surgery, were retrospectively included. Further inclusion criteria were age >18 years and availability of preoperative computed tomography (CT) scans and radiographs of the affected knee. Patients with multiligamentous instabilities as well as incomplete or poor radiographs were excluded. Tunnel position was evaluated according to the method described by Harner et al. and Stäubli and Rauschning. Tunnel width was determined on CT scans perpendicular to the bone tunnel axis at three different heights of each bone tunnel. Results: Eighty-two patients met the inclusion criteria and were considered for radiological analysis. Femoral tunnels were graded as anatomic in 60% (49 of 82) of all cases. In the remaining 40% (33/82), 27% of the tunnels were placed partially anatomic and 13% were graded as non-anatomic. Tibial tunnel placement was found to be anatomic in 54% (44/82) of all cases, partially anatomic in 45% and non-anatomic in 1% of the cases. No statistically significant difference between anatomic or partially anatomic tunnel position and tunnel diameter, neither for the femoral nor for the tibial side, was observed (n.s.). Conclusion: The present study demonstrates that there is a high incidence of partially anatomic placed tunnels in failed SB ACL reconstruction. Tunnel width was not associated with tunnel position. Clinically, partially anatomic bone tunnels frequently require a staged procedure with bone grafting and subsequent ACL revision surgery. Thus, surgeons should carefully analyse tunnel position and width preoperatively to properly plan ACL revision surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-467
Number of pages6
JournalKnee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • ACL
  • Anatomic
  • Anterior cruciate
  • Knee
  • Ligament reconstruction
  • Revision
  • Single-bundle
  • Tunnel placement


Dive into the research topics of 'High incidence of partially anatomic tunnel placement in primary single-bundle ACL reconstruction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this