Cruciate ligament repair is repairing a torn or avulsed cruciate ligament at its two torn ends, rather than using a replacement graft.

Page updated October 2023 by Dr Sheila Strover (Clinical Editor)

cruciate avulsion injury
cruciate ligament repair


Sherman classification

  • Type I - avulsion from the bone at the top of the notch
  • Type II - tear through the substance of the ACL in the upper 1/3
  • Type III - mid-substance tear
  • Type IV - distal tear
  • Type V - avulsion from distal tibia

The Sherman Classification is useful in determining which cruciate tears are most likely to be amenable to repair, Type I being the most likely to be successful.

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Technique of cruciate repair

Cruciate repair had been abandoned some years ago in favour of cruciate reconstruction but, with improved understanding of which cruciate tears heal more readily and with improved technology, the procedure is making a comeback, especially in children where any harvested autograft would be too flimsy to use for a reconstruction and where the growth plates are still open and vulnerable to damage from drilling tunnels for a reconstruction.


There are several options for primary repair of the cruciate, but the main concepts include:


  • preparing the femoral notch attachment site with microfracture and a fibrin clot, to encourage the torn end to re-unite with the bone

  • augmenting the ligament perhaps with tape, and cinching it back into position

  • tensioning and securing the repaired ligament to the outer part of the bone with suture anchors or buttons

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Peer-reviewed papers

  • Quote:

    "When considering suitability for primary repair it appears that femoral sided avulsions should be the initial focus...Significant caution is advised with mid-substance tears as significantly higher failure rates have been shown"

    Citation: Mahapatra P, Horriat S, Anand BS. Anterior cruciate ligament repair - past, present and future. J Exp Orthop. 2018 Jun 15;5(1):20. doi: 10.1186/s40634-018-0136-6. PMID: 29904897; PMCID: PMC6002325.

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Dr Sheila Strover (Editor)
BSc (Hons), MB BCh, MBA

See biography...

Other relevant content -

man reading

eBook to download - ACL Repair in Children

Easy to folow eBook explaining why children are very different from adults when it comes to the cruciate ligament. by Professor Adrian Wilson