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Does the patellar tendon normalize after harvesting its central third?: a prospective long-term MRI study

Journal article
Authors M. Svensson
Jüri Kartus
L. Ejerhed
S. Lindahl
Jón Karlsson
Published in Am J Sports Med
Volume 32
Issue 1
Pages 34-8
ISSN 0363-5465 (Print)
Publication year 2004
Published at Institute of Surgical Sciences, Department of Orthopaedics
Pages 34-8
Language en
Keywords Adolescent, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Anterior Cruciate Ligament/*injuries/*surgery, Female, Humans, Knee Injuries/pathology/*surgery, Longitudinal Studies, *Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Prospective Studies, Statistics, Nonparametric, Tendons/*pathology/*transplantation, Treatment Outcome
Subject categories Orthopaedics


BACKGROUND: The central third of the patellar tendon is the most frequently used autograft for ACL reconstruction. HYPOTHESIS: The patellar tendon at the donor site would look normal as seen on MRI 6 years after harvesting its central third. METHODS: Nineteen consecutive patients were included in the study. MRI examinations of the donor site were performed at 6 (5 to 10) weeks, 6 (6 to 8) months, 27 (24 to 29) months, and 71 (68 to 73) months postoperatively. The contralateral normal side was examined only on the first occasion. RESULTS: The size of the donor-site gap decreased significantly (P = 0.0001) between 6 weeks and 6 years. In most patients, a thinning of the central part of the patellar tendon was still found at 6 years. The thickness of the peripheral patellar tendon was increased, compared with the contralateral healthy side, until 2 years (P = 0.003). On all occasions, the width was increased compared with the contralateral side (P < 0.015). CONCLUSION: Prospective MRI examinations revealed that the patellar tendon at the donor site had not normalized 6 years after harvesting its central third. The reharvesting of the patellar tendon can therefore not be recommended.

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