ACL Reconstruction (To Treat an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear)

 

 

shutterstock_176343242_1500

 ACL RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY

The ACL RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY is used to rebuild a ligament in the center of your knee. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) keeps your knee aligned properly. A tear of this ligament can cause your knee to give way during physical activity and lead to further damage, such as cartilage tears.  Reconstruction of a torn ACL may improve problems such as:

  • a knee that gives way or feels unstable during daily activities

  • knee pain

  • inability to continue playing sports or other activities

  • risks of further damage

If you don’t have your ACL reconstructed, your knee may continue to be unstable and increases the chance that you may develop a meniscus tear.

 

The Procedure:

Your surgeon will make small incisions around your knee and insert medical instruments. Your surgeon will fix any other damage found, and then will replace your ACL by following these steps:

The torn ligament will be removed with a shaver or other instruments.

◾If your own tissue is being used to make your new ACL graft, your surgeon will make a larger incision. Tendon or ligament tissue will be removed through this incision to fashion the new ACL. In some cases patient may decide with their surgeon to use tissue from an organ donor instead.

Your surgeon will make tunnels in your tibia and femur bones to bring the new tissue through and to attach the new graft in the same place as your old ACL.

◾Your surgeon will attach the new ligament to the bone with screws or other devices to hold it in place. As it heals, the bone tunnels fill in and will hold the new ligament in place. At the end of the surgery, your surgeon will close your incisions with sutures (stitches) and cover the area with a dressing.  

 

After the Procedure: 

ACL reconstruction recovery is dependent on the type of procedure, your overall health, and your compliance with the rehabilitation plan. The new ACL tissue takes 6-9 months to gain full strength, and cutting/twisting activity must be avoided until cleared by your surgeon.  You may have to wear a knee brace for the first 1 to 4 weeks and you may need crutches for 1 to 4 weeks. You may need medicine for your pain. Physical therapy helps people regain motion and strength in their knee. Therapy can last 4 to 6 months. Most people will have a stable knee that does not give way after recovery and rehabilitation.

 

The strength of your graft is not related to the strength of your muscles, so you must protect it for (at least) the first six months. Once the graft is strong enough for these activities, it may take a few more months to become completely comfortable playing on your newly reconstructed knee.