Neuromuscular excitability changes in the vastus medialis following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

Michael D. Rosenthal, J. H. Moore, P. D. Stoneman, T. M. DeBerardino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Purpose: Quadriceps weakness following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) is prevalent despite intensive rehabilitation. Diminished neuromuscular excitability is one potential factor that may limit muscular recovery following injury or surgery. The H-reflex provides a measure of alpha motorneuron (neuromuscular) excitability in the sensory-motor pathway of the respective muscle and nerve. To date the vastus medialis (VM) and soleus (SOL) H-reflexes have been examined primarily in control subjects with induced knee joint effusion. This prospective, randomized clinical trial evaluated the affect of ACLR, utilizing hamsting (HS) or bone-patellar tendon-bone (BTB) autograft, on VM and SOL H-reflex latency and amplitude in twenty subjects. Methods: Preoperatively bilateral VM and SOL H-reflex tests were conducted. VM and SOL H-reflexes were subsequently conducted on the involved lower extremity at 1 and 3 months post surgery. At each test session subjects completed visual analog scales and knee girth was measured. Results: The VM H-reflex amplitude increased in the HS group at 3 months compared to 1-month post surgery (p<.05). Significant changes over time were also noted in the visual analog pain and functional scales and the mid-patella girth. Conclusions: The increased VM H-reflex amplitude at 3 months following HS autograft ACLR demonstrates an increase in VM neuromuscular excitability. Increased VM neuromuscular excitability was not evident in patients following BTB reconstruction. The increased neuromuscular excitability, observed only in the HS group, warrants consideration when selecting graft type for patients with extensive preoperative quadriceps dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-51
Number of pages9
JournalElectromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior cruciate ligament
  • Arthrogenic muscle inhibition
  • H-reflex
  • Reconstruction
  • Vastus medialis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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