Current use of navigation system in ACL surgery: a historical review

S. Zaffagnini, F. Urrizola, C. Signorelli, A. Grassi, T. Roberti Di Sarsina, G. A. Lucidi, G. M. Marcheggiani Muccioli, T. Bonanzinga, M. Marcacci

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: The present review aims to analyse the available literature regarding the use of navigation systems in ACL reconstructive surgery underling the evolution during the years. Methods: A research of indexed scientific papers was performed on PubMed and Cochrane Library database. The research was performed in December 2015 with no publication year restriction. Only English-written papers and related to the terms ACL, NAVIGATION, CAOS and CAS were considered. Two reviewers independently selected only those manuscripts that presented at least the application of navigation system for ACL reconstructive surgery. Results: One hundred and forty-six of 394 articles were finally selected. In this analysis, it was possible to review the main uses of navigation system in ACL surgery including tunnel positioning for primary and revision surgery and kinematic assessment of knee laxity before and after different surgical procedures. In the early years, until 2006, navigation system was mainly used to improve tunnel positioning, but since the last decade, this tool has been principally used for kinematics evaluation. Increased accuracy of tunnel placement was observed using navigation surgery, especially, regarding femoral, 42 of 146 articles used navigation to guide tunnel positioning. During the following years, 82 of 146 articles have used navigation system to evaluate intraoperative knee kinematic. In particular, the importance of controlling rotatory laxity to achieve better surgical outcomes has been underlined. Conlusions: Several applications have been described and despite the contribution of navigation systems, its potential uses and theoretical advantages, there are still controversies about its clinical benefit. The present papers summarize the most relevant studies that have used navigation system in ACL reconstruction. In particular, the analysis identified four main applications of the navigation systems during ACL reconstructive surgery have been identified: (1) technical assistance for tunnel placement; (2) improvement in knowledge of the kinematic behaviour of ACL and other structures; (3) comparison of effectiveness of different surgical techniques in controlling laxities; (4) navigation system performance to improve the outcomes of ACL reconstruction and cost-effectiveness. Level of evidence: IV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3396-3409
Number of pages14
JournalKnee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016


  • ACL
  • Computer-assisted surgery (CAS)
  • Kinematic
  • Navigation system
  • Tunnel placement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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