Purpose: Bone tunnel creation techniques influence the 3-dimensional (3D) position of bone tunnels and graft-bending angle in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. This study assessed graft-bending angle and 3D characteristics of femoral bone tunnels and compared them between outside-in (OI) and transportal (TP) techniques. Methods: Participants comprised 64 patients who underwent anatomic double-bundle ACL reconstruction, allocated to OI and TP groups (n = 32 each). The graft orientation plane exhibiting the largest graft-bending angle at the femoral tunnel aperture with the knee in extension was reconstructed from CT data using 3D imaging software. In this plane, graft-bending angle was compared between the OI and TP techniques. Results: Although positionings of the intra-articular apertures of the femoral and tibial bone tunnels were similar, several spatial parameters of bone tunnels differed between techniques. Graft-bending angles of both anteromedial and posterolateral bundles were significantly more acute with the OI technique than with the TP technique. On coronal-plane CT, angle of the bone tunnel axis relative to the distal condylar axis correlated negatively with graft-bending angle, while in the axial plane, angle of the bone tunnel axis relative to the posterior condylar axis correlated positively with graft-bending angle. Lysholm score, pivot shift test, and anteroposterior laxity at >2.5-year follow-up demonstrated no significant differences between techniques. Discussion: Different bone tunnel directions in OI and TP techniques substantially affected graft-bending angle, despite similar positionings of the intra-articular apertures. Graft-bending angle with the OI technique was acute, but risk of posterior blowout of the lateral femoral condyle was decreased. Surgeons should create the femoral tunnel while considering an obtuse graft-bending angle without increasing the risk of posterior blowout. Level of evidence: III.
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