Evidence of reinnervation of free patellar tendon autograft used for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

Robert L. Barrack, Peter J. Lund, Barry G. Munn, Carole Wink, Leo Happel

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58 Scopus citations

Abstract

We studied six adult male dogs to determine whether free patellar tendon grafts show evidence of reinnervation when used for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Histologic return of neural elements and return of a somatosensory-evoked potential defined evidence of reinnervation. Before removal, the native anterior cruciate ligament was electrically stimulated with a bipolar electrode and a somatosensory-evoked potential was recorded from a scalp electrode. The ligament was excised and reconstructed using an autogenous patellar tendon graft. Somatosensory-evoked potential was attempted immediately after reconstruction. Histology for nerve endings was performed on the native ligaments. Each animal underwent repeat arthrotomy 6 months later. The grafts were isolated and somatosensory-evoked potentials were attempted. An evoked potential was seen in all six dogs before reconstruction. No graft demonstrated a somatosensory-evoked potential acutely; however, 6 months postoperatively, the somatosensory-evoked potential returned in two cases. Histology of native ligaments showed that 25% of the 100 sections evaluated contained neural elements. Of the receptors present, 89% were mechanoreceptors and 11% were free nerve endings. Histologic examination of the graft tissue 6 months postoperatively revealed that all six grafts also contained neural elements. Mechanoreceptors and free nerve endings were present in approximately equal numbers in the grafts. The results of histology and somatosensory-evoked potential demonstrate that in at least some cases, free patellar tendon grafts show evidence of reinnervation when used for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-202
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997

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