Single bundle anterior cruciate reconstruction does not restore normal knee kinematics at six months

An upright MRI study

J. A. Nicholson, A. G. Sutherland, F. W. Smith


Abnormal knee kinematics following reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament may exist despite an apparent resolution of tibial laxity and functional benefit. We performed upright, weight-bearing MR scans of both knees in the sagittal plane at different angles of flexion to determine the kinematics of the knee following unilateral reconstruction (n = 12). The uninjured knee acted as a control. Scans were performed pre-operatively and at three and six months post-operatively. Anteroposterior tibial laxity was determined using an arthrometer and patient function by validated questionnaires before and after reconstruction. In all the knees with deficient anterior cruciate ligaments, the tibial plateau was displaced anteriorly and internally rotated relative to the femur when compared with the control contralateral knee, particularly in extension and early flexion (mean lateral compartment displacement: extension 7.9 mm (sd 4.8), p = 0.002 and 30° flexion 5.1 mm (sd 3.6), p = 0.004). In all ten patients underwent post-operative scans. Reconstruction reduced the subluxation of the lateral tibial plateau at three months, with resolution of anterior displacement in early flexion, but not in extension (p = 0.015). At six months, the reconstructed knee again showed anterior subluxation in both the lateral (mean: extension 4.2 mm (sd 4.2), p = 0.021 and 30° flexion 3.2 mm (sd 3.3), p = 0.024) and medial compartments (extension, p = 0.049).

Our results show that despite improvement in laxity and functional benefit, abnormal knee kinematics remain at six months and actually deteriorate from three to six months following reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament.


  • No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.

  • Supplementary material. A further opinion by Mr C. Gupte is available with the electronic version of this article on our website at

  • Received January 10, 2011.
  • Accepted June 2, 2011.
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