Research Article| Volume 41, P106-114, March 2023

A balance between native footprint coverage and overlap of the anterolateral meniscal root in tibial tunnel positioning during anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: A 3D MRI study

Published:January 13, 2023DOI:



      Tibial footprint of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is situated close to the anterior lateral meniscal root (ALMR) attachment.


      To investigate the impact of the size and location of the tibial tunnel for ACL reconstruction on the ACL footprint coverage and overlap to the ALMR.

      Study design

      Controlled laboratory study.


      Twenty knee MRI scans from twenty healthy subjects were recruited, and three-dimensional (3D) tibia models were created to show the tibial attachment sites of ACL and ALMR. Surgical simulation of the tibial tunnel drilling was performed on each 3D model, entering the joint at an angle set at 60 degrees from the tibial plateau plane and 55 degrees from the posterior tibial condylar axis, with analysis for six different drill sizes; 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5 and 10 mm; and nine locations; the center of the ACL attachment and eight locations 2% of the tibial width apart surrounding it. The width of the tibial plateau, the distance between ACL and ALMR attachment centers, and the size and location of the potential tibial tunnel were evaluated to determine association with the area of the ACL footprint coverage and ALMR overlap using a linear mixed effects model.


      A large tunnel (p <.001), a central and anterior location (p <.029), and small tibial width (p =.015) were all associated with larger coverage of the ACL footprint. A large tunnel (p <.001), posteriorly and laterally located (p ≤ 0.001), and a small distance between the ACL and ALMR centers (p =.001) were significantly associated with a larger ALMR overlap. The association of the tunnel size to ALMR overlap reduced with a medial tunnel location.


      The short distance between the centers of the ALMR attachment and native ACL footprint suggests that the ALMR will always be susceptible to overlap when the tibial tunnel is drilled in ACL reconstruction. Small alterations in tunnel location can lead to a statistically significant alteration with the amount of ALMR overlap. To minimize this overlap, whilst maintaining acceptable coverage of the ACL footprint, a tibial tunnel positioned in a medial or anteromedial location from the center of the ACL footprint is recommended.


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