ACL Reconstruction Surgery

Anterior CrucIATE Ligament (ACL) & Other Knee Ligaments Tear/Injury

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury

Athletes who participate in high demand sports like dance, soccer, football, and basketball are more likely to injure their anterior cruciate ligaments. Each ACL injury is different and can range from a stretched ligament to a partial tear to a complete rupture. Equally so, each type of treatment is different, from structured recovery and rehabilitation to reconstruction surgery followed by rehabilitation.

In situations where a patient is active, such as a high school or college athlete, and would like to return to that active lifestyle after treatment, surgery to repair a partial or complete tear is likely the best option as this surgery has a long-term success rate of 82 to 95 percent.

There are four ligaments in the knee that are prone to injury:

  • As mentioned above, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the two major ligaments in the knee. It connects the thighbone to the shinbone in the knee. ACL injuries are a common cause of disability to the knee.
  • The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is the second major ligament in the knee connecting the thighbone to the shinbone in the knee.
  • The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) connects the thighbone to the fibula, the smaller bone of the lower leg, which is found on the lateral or outer side of the knee.
  • The medial collateral ligament (MCL) also connects the thighbone to the shinbone on the medial or inner side of the knee.




ACL Graphics

What to Expect After ACL Reconstruction Surgery?

The ACL, which stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament, is a band of tissue that helps keep the knee stable. When damaged or torn, you may have a hard time playing sports, putting pressure on your knee, or even walking. ACL injuries are common among people who play sports or engage in strenuous physical activities. The injury usually happens after a sharp or sudden movement while jumping or running.

The good thing about an ACL injury is that it can heal on its own if the tear isn’t serious. However, if it is completely torn, your doctor may recommend that you undergo a surgical procedure to have it reconstructed. We will be taking a close look at how an ACL reconstruction surgery is done and what to expect in recovery.

What Happens During Surgery?

The goal of the surgery is to remove the torn or damaged ligament from the knee and replace it with a tissue replacement. If everything goes well, your knee will become stable again, and you will have the full range of motion you once had before your injury.

During the surgery, a tool known as the arthroscope will be used to inspect the affected area.

How the Surgery is Preformed

Your doctor will first make a couple of incisions in the knee. Next, he will insert the arthroscope to get a clear picture of the condition of the affected region. He will then remove the torn or damaged ligament and replace it with tendons harvested from other parts of your body, like your knee or hamstring. Your doctor may also use tendons collected from a donor.

The new ligament is then grafted. The grafting process involves your doctor making two tunnels which are drilled into the bones above and below your knee. The graft is passed through these tunnels and secured with a button and screw. Bear in mind that it may take a couple of months for your new ACL to integrate completely.

After the surgery, your doctor will recommend that you wear a brace to protect your knee.

Why Surgery is Important

Of course, there are a handful of non-surgical treatment options for a torn ACL, but most of them aren’t really that effective and may not be able to restore stability to the knee.

As previously mentioned, not all ACL tears require a surgical procedure. Your physician will discuss the options available for surgery and/or rehabilitation.

However, if you have any of the following, you should opt for a surgical procedure:

  • If your knee is unstable or your ACL is seriously damaged or completely torn
  • If your knee is still unstable after you have gone through rehab
  • If you have injured other parts of your knee like your meniscus or cartilage
  • If your knee is not as stable and strong as it was before

What to Expect After the Procedure?

On average, the procedure is likely going to take 1 to 2 hours to complete. General anaesthesia will be administered before the surgery, so you won’t feel pain. You usually stay for 1 day in the hospital to recuperate and will be discharged the next day.

You will be on crutches for 2 to 3 weeks to avoid putting weight on your knee. You will be reviewed after 1 week and the stitches will be removed after 2 weeks.

Your doctor will recommend that you start physical therapy as soon as your ACL begins to heal. This will help strengthen your ligament and muscles and cut down your recovery time.

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Knee Treatments & Surgery

Conditions of the Knee

  • Meniscus injury/tear
  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprain/strain
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) sprain/strain
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain/strain
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) sprain/strain
  • Jumper’s knee
  • Housemaid’s knee
  • Infra-patellar bursitis
  • Patella dislocation
  • Patella tendon rupture
  • Quadripceps tendon rupture
  • Articular cartilage injury
  • Acute fat pad impingement
  • Biceps femoris avulsion
  • Tibiofibular joint dislocation
  • Tibial plateau fracture
  • Osteochondritis dissecans