In vivo assessment of the interaction of patellar tendon tibial shaft angle and anterior cruciate ligament elongation during flexion.
A potential cause of non-contact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is landing on an extended knee. In line with this hypothesis, studies have shown that the ACL is elongated with decreasing knee flexion angle. Furthermore, at low flexion angles the patellar tendon is oriented to increase the anterior shear component of force acting on the tibia. This indicates that knee extension represents a position in which the ACL is taut, and thus may have an increased propensity for injury, particularly in the presence of excessive force acting via the patellar tendon. However, there is very little in vivo data to describe how patellar tendon orientation and ACL elongation interact during flexion. Therefore, this study measured the patellar tendon tibial shaft angle (indicative of the relative magnitude of the shear component of force acting via the patellar tendon) and ACL length in vivo as subjects performed a quasi-static lunge at varying knee flexion angles. Spearman rho rank correlations within each individual revealed that flexion angles were inversely correlated to both ACL length (rho = -0.94 ± 0.07, mean ± standard deviation, p < 0.05) and patellar tendon tibial shaft angle (rho = -0.99 ± 0.01, p < 0.05). These findings indicate that when the knee is extended, the ACL is both elongated and the patellar tendon tibial shaft angle is increased, resulting in a relative increase in anterior shear force on the tibia acting via the patellar tendon. Therefore, these data support the hypothesis that landing with the knee in extension is a high risk scenario for ACL injury.
Englander, ZA; Cutcliffe, HC; Utturkar, GM; Taylor, KA; Spritzer, CE; Garrett, WE; DeFrate, LE
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