The hamstring tendons are an increasingly popular graft choice for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction due to preservation of quadriceps function and the absence of anterior knee pain post-operatively. Two commonly used hamstring grafts are a quadruple strand semitendinosus graft (4ST) and a double strand semitendinosus-double strand gracilis graft (2ST-2G). It has been suggested that concurrent harvest of the semitendinsous and gracilis tendons may result in sub-optimal hamstring strength recovery as the gracilis may play a role in reinforcing the semitendinosus particularly in deep knee flexion angles. The objective of this systematic review was to synthesize the findings of available literature and determine whether semitendinosus and gracilis harvest lead to post-operative hamstring strength deficits when compared to semitendinosus harvest alone. Seven studies were identified which compared hamstring strength outcomes between the common hamstring graft types. The methodological quality of each paper was assessed, and where possible effect sizes were calculated to allow comparison of results across studies. No differences were reported between the groups in isokinetic hamstring strength. Deficits in hamstring strength were reported in the 2ST-2G groups when compared to the 4ST groups in isometric strength testing at knee flexion angles ≥70°, and in the standing knee flexion angle. Preliminary evidence exists to support the hypothesis that harvesting the semitendinosus tendon alone is preferable to harvesting in combination with the gracilis tendon for minimizing post-operative hamstring strength deficits at knee flexion angles greater than 70°. However, due to the paucity of research comparing strength outcomes between the common hamstring graft types, further investigation is warranted to fully elucidate the implications for graft harvest.
Anterior cruciate ligament, Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, Hamstring, Strength testing, Muscle strength