Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, also known as ACL reconstruction, refers to a surgical procedure that involves replacing a torn ligament in the center of the knee with a piece of tendon obtained from deceased donor or another part of your knee. It is usually done by a special doctor with expertise in bone and joint surgeries known as an orthopedic surgeon.
Typically, ACL reconstruction surgery is an outpatient medical procedure done via small incisions around the damaged knee. The procedure is performed with the help of knee arthroscopy, where a small camera connected to a video monitor is inserted into your knee.
Proper ACL reconstruction accompanied with good rehabilitative practices results in quick recovery, minimal or no complications, full motion range of your knee and minimal pain or stiffness.
Generally, a doctor may recommend this procedure if you:
The type of ACL reconstruction surgery depends on where the replacement tendon or graft is derived. It also depending on the severity of the knee damage. Your surgeon may use an autograft or allograft to reconstruct the injured knee ligament.
An autograft is a graft harvested from a part of your own body, such as hamstring tendons and patellar tendon. Autografts can also be harvested from quadriceps tendon located above your kneecap.
Allograft on the other hand, is a graft obtained from a donor. The donor is usually a young deceased patient free of bacterial or viral disease with healthy tendon tissue.
Although ACL reconstruction surgery is generally a safe procedure, it may result in certain complications or risks such as:
To ensure successful anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, it is advisable to seek medical attention as soon as the symptoms of the injury appear. Undergoing the procedure in time helps in minimizing any potential complications.
Successful ACL construction involves proper preparation on your part. Occasionally, your physician may recommend physical therapy that lasts for a couple of weeks before the surgery. Remember, the goal of ACL reconstruction is to relieve the symptoms of the damaged knee and restore it to its normal state; hence, the therapy.
Be sure to share with your doctor the information regarding any dietary supplements or medicines you are taking, as some medicines and supplements may lead to severe bleeding during the surgery. You need to stick to your physician’s instructions about drinks, foods, supplements and drugs to avoid any possible complications that may result from the procedure.
Since ACL reconstruction is a painful procedure, the surgeon will help block the pain by administering either general or regional anesthesia, depending on the severity of your injury. Once the anesthetic takes effect, the surgeon makes an incision in your knee and inserts a tiny camera known as an arthroscope into the damaged knee through the incision. There is a connection that runs from the camera to a video monitor from which the surgeon observes the inside of your knee to locate the damaged ligaments and other knee tissues.
Once the damage has been located and assessed, the surgeon makes other incisions through which he inserts other medical equipment into your knee. The replacement of the damage anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) involves the following steps:
After recovery from anesthesia, your physician may allow you to go home. You may need to practice how to use crutches since they may be necessary during the first few weeks of healing. Your physician may also instruct you to wear a splint or knee brace.
While at home, the following self-care practices may be necessary to speed up the healing process:
Generally, persons who undergo ACL reconstruction regain their normal state and live a normal lifestyle. Your efforts to regain full knee motion range should begin just a couple of weeks following surgery. Depending on the type of work you do, a full return to your daily activities may take four to six weeks. Most athletes are able to return to competitive sports within 6 months, depending on the sport. Always consult with and follow the advice of your doctor if you are considering this treatment.
Our orthopedic specialists, Dr. Hessing and Dr. Applonie, are here to help if you are in pain from an injury or dealing with a chronic condition.