Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction is a surgical procedure performed to treat a torn or damaged ACL, which is one of the major ligaments in the knee joint, as it plays a crucial role in stabilizing the knee.
Who is Candidate for ACL Reconstruction?
This procedure is more likely to be recommended for patients who:
· Practice sports that involve twisting and turning repetitively, such as football or rugby.
· Their jobs require heavy physical work.
· Experience knee stability during normal activities.
· Have other knee injuries.
It is also worth noting that this surgery is recommended for patients who are younger than 25 years old as this procedure can help prevent additional joint damage over time.
ACL Reconstruction Step-by-Step
The most common method for ACL reconstruction is to use tendon from your own body as graft to replace the ACL.
The surgery typically involves the following steps:
1. Anesthesia: This procedure is typically done under general anesthesia, which puts you to sleep, or regional anesthesia, which numbs your entire leg.
2. Graft Selection: During reconstruction, a graft is used to create a new ACL. Your surgeon will harvest the graft from tissue from your own body. Commonly this graft can be taken from your kneecap, quadriceps, hamstring, or your front thigh.
3. Incisions: Small incisions around your knee will be made to insert an arthroscope and other surgical instruments to perform the procedure.
4. Arthroscopy: Your surgeon will insert an arthroscope, which is a thin tube with a camera and light at the end, through one of the incisions. This will provide a clear view of the inside of your knee joint to perform the procedure.
5. Bone Tunnel Creation: A tunnel will be drilled into your bone to pass the graft through.
6. Graft Placement: The prepared graft will be passed through the bone tunnel and secured in place using screws, staples, or other fixation devices. The graft will be positioned to replicate the function of the original ACL, providing stability.
7. Closing Incisions: After securing the graft, the instruments will be removed, and the incisions will be closed with sutures.
In some cases, the torn ACL may be repaired using sutures to bring the torn ends back together. However, in most cases, ACL reconstruction is performed.
ACL reconstruction usually takes from 1 hour to 1 hour and a half. Depending on your case you may be able to go home the same day as surgery or stay overnight.
Recovery After Surgery
For your recovery, you will be given instructions on how to take care of your wound. Commonly, your doctor will advise you to wash it with mild soap and warm water to keep it clean and avoid infections.
You may experience pain, bruising, swelling, and redness which will start to improve after 1 week.
Physical therapy will also be recommended to promote knee flexibility and muscle strengthening. You may have to use crutches for a few weeks to avoid putting weight on the operated leg.
Full recovery can take several months, but you will gradually be able to return to your regular activities. Following your doctor’s instructions is crucial for a successful recovery.