Purpose: External loading of osteoarthritic and healthy knees correlates with current and future osteochondral tissue state. These relationships have not been examined following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. We hypothesised greater magnitude tibiofemoral contact forces were related to increased prevalence of osteochondral pathologies, and these relationships were exacerbated by concomitant meniscal injury. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 100 individuals (29.7 ± 6.5 years, 78.1 ± 14.4 kg) examined 2–3 years following hamstring tendon anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Thirty-eight participants had concurrent meniscal pathology (30.6 ± 6.6 years, 83.3 ± 14.3 kg), which included treated and untreated meniscal injury, and 62 participants (29.8 ± 6.4 years, 74.9 ± 13.3 kg) were free of meniscal pathology. Magnetic resonance imaging of reconstructed knees was used to assess prevalence of tibiofemoral osteochondral pathologies (i.e., cartilage defects and bone marrow lesions). A calibrated electromyogram-driven neuromusculoskeletal model was used to predict medial and lateral tibiofemoral compartment contact forces from gait analysis data. Relationships between contact forces and osteochondral pathology prevalence were assessed using logistic regression models. Results: In patients with reconstructed knees free from meniscal pathology, greater medial contact forces were related to reduced prevalence of medial cartilage defects (odds ratio (OR) = 0.7, Wald χ2(2) = 7.9, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.50–95, p = 0.02) and medial bone marrow lesions (OR = 0.8, Wald χ2(2) = 4.2, 95% CI = 0.7–0.99, p = 0.04). No significant relationships were found in lateral compartments. In reconstructed knees with concurrent meniscal pathology, no relationships were found between contact forces and osteochondral pathologies. Conclusions: In patients with reconstructed knees free from meniscal pathology, increased contact forces were associated with fewer cartilage defects and bone marrow lesions in medial, but not, lateral tibiofemoral compartments. No significant relationships were found between contact forces and osteochondral pathologies in reconstructed knees with meniscal pathology for any tibiofemoral compartment. Future studies should focus on determining longitudinal effects of contact forces and changes in osteochondral pathologies. Level of evidence: IV.
- Anterior cruciate ligament
- Bone marrow lesions