The methods and materials for ACL reconstruction are important issues for the practicing orthopaedic sur geon. In this study a model was developed to study the biological and biomechanical characteristics of a patel lar tendon autograft used for ACL reconstruction. Spe cifically it was hypothesized that since vascularity of these grafts reflects their “healthiness,” strength and vascularity should be inversely related in the early pe riod after implantation. Using an over the top technique, a patellar tendon graft was placed in three groups of dogs and studied at 37, 57, and 120 days. Vascularity of the grafts was measured using technetium-tagged red blood cells, and percent water by weight was determined by dessication. Tensile testing to failure was performed using an MTS machine. The grafts became more vascular, more hydrated, less stiff, and less strong (by 4 weeks) than controls. By 16 weeks the vascular response was subsiding but the grafts remained only 40% as strong as controls. Percent water increased significantly over controls for all time periods. Decrease in strength correlated poorly with vascularity but correlated well with increase in percent water. These findings suggest that the change in strength of an intraarticular ACL replacement relates more to a basic rearrangement of its collagen-ground substance relationships, and that vascularity may re flect the inflammatory response bringing about these changes. The model developed in this study serves as a basis for further studies, and the findings reveal important information about the behavior of ACL graft ing materials.
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