Semitendinosus Tendon for ACL Reconstruction: Regrowth and Mechanical Property Recovery

Stephen M. Suydam, Daniel H. Cortes, Michael J. Axe, Lynn Snyder-Mackler, Thomas S. Buchanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: Semitendinosus/gracilis (STG) tendon autograft has been used effectively for restoring knee stability after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture. Though ACL reconstruction with STG autograft is an effective surgical technique for return to sports, short-term hamstring strength asymmetries exist after surgery. Although imaging evidence has demonstrated regrowth and reorganization of the semitendinosus (ST) tendon, no studies show whether the regrowth is associated with residual muscle function. Continuous shear wave elastography (cSWE) using an external actuator and high–frame rate ultrasound is a promising technique for evaluating the mechanical properties of regrown tendons in vivo. Purpose: To demonstrate recovery of the mechanical properties of the hamstring tendons after ACL reconstruction using an STG tendon autograft. Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: Thirteen patients underwent an STG autograft reconstruction after ACL rupture. Regrowth of the ST tendon was confirmed via b-mode ultrasound between 6 and 24 months postreconstruction. The shear elastic (µ1) and viscosity moduli (µ2) of the ST tendons were ascertained through cSWE using an external actuator and high–frame rate ultrasound. Results: Significant differences in both shear elastic (129.4 vs 73.0 kPa) and viscous moduli (192.6 vs 114.3 Pa·s) existed bilaterally for uninvolved and involved limbs, respectively. Additionally, a positive correlation between time postoperative and shear elasticity was observed (r = 0.60). More than 12 months were required for patients to regain a large percentage of the tendon’s mechanical properties compared with the contralateral side (µ1, 80.6% at >12 months vs 39.9%; µ2, 78.7% at >12 months vs 46.0%). Conclusion: The imaging and elastography data demonstrate tendon regrowth and recovery of functional biomechanical properties with time. The elastic modulus of the recovered tendon indicates the ability to transmit muscle force across the joint and recovery of semitendinosus function after its use for an ACL graft.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 27 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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