Fixation strengths of patellar tendon-bone grafts

Leslie S. Matthews, Steven J. Lawrence, Martin A. Yahiro, Mark R. Sinclair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Secure fixation of bone-patellar tendon-bone grafts is essential to allow early joint mobilization after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery. This study was designed to evaluate four fixation methods of patellar tendon-bone grafts in cadaveric knecs. Fifty-one fresh cadaveric patellar tendon-bone specimens were anchored in tibial or femoral metaphyseal bone tunnels. Group I grafts were fixed with Kurosaka interference screws. In Group II the grafts were initially fixed as in Group I, but the screws were then removed, the bone plugs repositioned, and the grafts resecured with screws. In Group III the grafts were anchored with three no. 2 nonabsorbable sutures tied over a screw and washer, whereas in Group IV no. 5 nonabsorbable sutures were used. Each bone specimen was mounted in the biomechanical testing machine, and a vertical tensile load was applied at a strain rate of 51 cm/min until failure of fixation, bone plug fracture, or tendon disruption occurred. The mean force to failure in Groups I, II, III, and IV were 435.0 N, 458.2 N, 454.2 N, and 415.8 N, respectively. There was no significant difference in the force to failure among the four methods of fixation. However, the modes of failure were diverse. In three specimens the Kurosaka screws diverged from the plugs and failed to achieve fixation. These specimens were excluded and will be discussed separately. Although technique-related difficulties may arise, interference screw fixation of patellar tendon-bone grafts affords strong graft fixation—often stronger than the graft itself. Secondary screw fixation appears to be equal in strength to primary screw fixation. Fixation with sutures tied over a screw post is dependent on the strength of the suture. No. 5 nonabsorbable suture material consistently provided fixation stronger than the patellar tendon grafts. These four methods may provide fixation strengths in excess of forces normally experienced by the ACL during the early rehabilitative period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-81
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior cruciate ligament
  • Fixation strengths
  • Patellar tendon-bone grafts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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