Tendon harvesting for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction often injures sensory branches of the saphenous nerve. The reports on the prevalence of these injuries are scarce, while the implications on patient satisfaction are not known. Our objective was to compare the prevalence of sensory nerve injuries in patellar to hamstring autograft harvesting for anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions and follow up their postoperative course. Methods: Between 2012 and 2014, patients who had a primary anterior cruciate ligament re- construction with bone patellar tendon bone or hamstring autografts were included (n = 94). We evaluated and compared demographic details, level of activity and postoperative sensation disturbances between both groups. Data was analyzed retrospectively.
The mean postoperative follow-up time was 23 months. At the last follow-up 46 (77%) patients of the patellar tendon group and 22 (58%) of the hamstring tendons group reported on reduced sensation; however, in both groups a quarter of these patients experienced full recovery within an average of seven to eight months. There were more patients in the hamstring tendons group that reported on partial recovery. In most cases midline incisions for patellar tendons harvesting injured the infrapatellar branch and medial incisions for hamstring tendons harvesting injured the sartorial branch of the saphenous nerve.
Harvesting tendon autografts for anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions by vertical incisions had high prevalence of saphenous nerve branches injury with a minor possibility for complete recovery within the first year. The loss of sensation was perceived by patients as a minor complication.