Posterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction
Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) reconstruction is a surgical procedure used to treat a torn or damaged PCL, which is one of the main ligaments in the knee joint.
The PCL plays a vital role in stabilizing the knee and preventing excessive backward movement of the shinbone (tibia) in relation to the thigh bone (femur).
Who is Candidate for PCL Reconstruction?
Suitable candidates for this procedure are patients who have experienced a significant tear or complete rupture of the posterior cruciate ligament, resulting in knee instability and movement limitations.
This procedure is typically recommended for:
· Active Individuals: Patients who participate in sports or activities that involve direct impact to the front of the knee.
· Persistent Symptoms: Patients with persistent knee pain, swelling, and limited movement after a PCL tear may benefit from this procedure.
· Knee instability: If you’ve experienced episodes of feeling unstable during weight-carrying movements, reconstruction may be necessary to improve joint stability.
· Younger Patients: This procedure is often recommended for younger patients as it can prevent additional joint damage over time.
PCL Reconstruction Step-by-Step
PCL reconstruction usually takes 1 hour to complete and involves the use of a graft to reconstruct the ligament. The general steps involved in PCL reconstruction include:
1. Anesthesia: You will be given either general anesthesia, which puts you to sleep, or regional anesthesia, which numbs the lower body.
2. Arthroscope Access: Your surgeon will make small incisions around your knee to insert the arthroscope, which is a thin tube with a camera and light at the end, and other surgical instruments. The arthroscope will provide a clear view of the inside of the knee joint on a monitor.
3. Graft Selection: A graft, which can be harvested from your tissue, is chosen to create a new PCL. Typically, the hamstring, patellar, and quadriceps tendons are used as grafts.
4. Bone Tunnel: Your surgeon will drill small tunnels into your tibia (shinbone) and femur (thigh bone) to pass the new PCL graft through them.
5. Graft Placement: The graft will be passed through the bone tunnels and secured in place with screws or staples.
6. Closure: Your surgeon will close the incisions with sutures. A sterile dressing will be applied to protect the incisions.
Recovery After Surgery
In most cases, patients are able to go home the same day as surgery, but depending on your case, your doctor will decide if you should stay overnight or not.
Your doctor will provide you with indications to follow during your recovery, such as the use of crutches to avoid pressure on your leg, physical therapy to improve your range of motion, increase strength and restore balance.
Full recovery after PCL surgery might take a few months. It is crucial to follow all the instructions provided for successful healing.