Ligament reconstruction is a surgical procedure that involves repairing or replacing a damaged or torn ligament in the body.
Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect bones and stabilize joints. When a ligament is severely injured, it may not heal on its own, leading to joint instability and functional limitations.
Who is Candidate for this Procedure?
There are different factors to take into consideration to know if you’re suitable for ligament reconstruction:
· Ligament injury: Patients with severe or complete tear of a ligament in a joint can be suitable candidates for this procedure.
· Lifestyle: Your lifestyle, goals, and expectations play an important role in determining if you’re a candidate for this procedure.
· Age: Younger individuals generally have better healing capacity and may be more suitable for ligament reconstruction.
· Joint stability: If the joint is unstable and causes persistent pain or affects your daily activities, this procedure may be necessary to restore stability.
Common Ligaments for Reconstruction
The most commonly reconstructed ligaments include:
· Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL): Ligament that joins the thigh and the shin bone at the central part of the knee.
· Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL): Ligament that joins the thigh and shin at the back of the knee.
· Lateral ankle ligament: The three ligaments located on the outer side of the ankle.
· Carpometacarpal (CMC) Ligament: The set of ligaments located in the hand, specifically in the base of the thumb.
Ligament Reconstruction Step-by-Step
The steps involved in ligament reconstruction surgery can vary depending on the specific ligament being reconstructed and the surgical technique used. However, the general steps in ligament typically include the following:
1. Anesthesia: You will be provided with general anesthesia to ensure you’ll be asleep and not feel any pain and discomfort during the procedure.
2. Incision: Your surgeon will make a small incision over the area the damaged ligament is located.
3. Graft Harvesting: It is common to use tissue from the patient’s own body to reconstruct the damaged ligament. Your surgeon will harvest the graft from another part of your body, typically from tendons or ligaments near the surgical site.
4. Graft Placement: After the graft has been prepared, your surgeon will pass it through tunnels drilled into the bone. Then it will be secured in place using screws, staples, or other devices.
5. Closure: After the graft is securely in place, the incisions will be closed with sutures.
Recovery After Surgery
After surgery, you may experience pain, swelling, and limited mobility in the affected joint. Your doctor can prescribe you medication to manage the pain and will recommend you apply ice packs to alleviate discomfort and reduce swelling during the early stages of recovery.
You may need to use crutches or wear a brace to protect and support the reconstructed ligament and joint while it heals. Physical therapy and rehabilitation will also play a critical role in your recovery process. This will help you strengthen the surrounding muscles and improve joint stability.