Hamstring Autograft versus Patellar Tendon Autograft for ACL Reconstruction: Is There a Difference in Graft Failure Rate? A Meta-analysis of 47,613 Patients
Bone-patellar tendon-bone (bone-tendon-bone) and four-strand hamstring tendon grafts (hamstring) are the most commonly utilized autografts for primary anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Existing clinical trials, registry studies, and meta-analyses offer conflicting opinions regarding the most favorable graft choice.
Which graft type for ACL reconstruction (bone-tendon-bone or hamstring) has a higher risk of (1) graft rupture and/or (2) graft laxity?
We performed a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), prospective cohort studies, and high-quality national registry studies to compare the outcomes of primary ACL reconstruction with bone-tendon-bone autograft or hamstring autograft. Studies that compared these graft types were identified through a comprehensive search of electronic databases (PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library). Two independent reviewers utilized the Jadad scale for RCT study quality and the Modified Coleman Methodology Score for prospective comparative and registry study quality. The included studies were analyzed for the primary outcome measure of graft rupture with or without revision ACL surgery. In surviving grafts, secondary outcomes of graft laxity were quantified by KT1000/2000™ testing, a positive pivot shift test, and a positive Lachman test. Meta-analysis was performed with Review Manager. A total of 47,613 ACL reconstructions (39,768 bone-tendon-bone and 7845 hamstring) from 14 RCTs, 10 prospective comparative studies, and one high-quality national registry study were included in this meta-analysis. Mean age was 28 years in both groups. Sixty-three percent of patients in the bone-tendon-bone cohort were men versus 57% of patients in the hamstring cohort. Mean followup was 68 ± 55 months.
Two hundred twelve of 7560 (2.80%) bone-tendon-bone grafts ruptured compared with 1123 of 39,510 (2.84%) in the hamstring group (odds ratio = 0.83, 95% confidence interval, 0.72-0.96; p = 0.01). The number needed to treat analysis found that 235 patients would need to be treated with a bone-tendon-bone graft over a hamstring tendon graft to prevent one graft rupture. Instrumented laxity analysis showed that 22% (318 of 1433) of patients in the bone-tendon-bone group had laxity compared with 18% (869 of 4783) in the hamstring tendon group (odds ratio = 0.86; p = 0.16). Pivot shift analysis showed a positive pivot shift in 19% (291 of 1508) of the bone-tendon-bone group compared with 17% (844 of 5062) in the hamstring group (odds ratio = 0.89; p = 0.51). Lachman testing showed a positive Lachman in 25% (71 of 280) of patients receiving bone-tendon-bone grafts compared with 25% (73 of 288) in the hamstring group (odds ratio = 0.96; p = 0.84).
In this meta-analysis of short- to mid-term followup after primary ACL reconstruction, hamstring autografts failed at a higher rate than bone-tendon-bone autografts. However, failure rates were low in each group, the difference observed was small, and we observed few differences between graft types in terms of laxity. Both graft types remain viable options for primary ACL reconstruction, and the difference in failure rate should be one part of a larger conversation with each individual patient about graft selection that should also include potential differences in donor site morbidity, complication rates, and patient-reported outcome measures. Continued prospective collection of patient data will be important going forward as we attempt to further characterize the potential differences in outcomes attributable to graft selection.
Level of Evidence
Level III, therapeutic study.