ACL reconstruction is a type of knee surgery that repairs your anterior cruciate ligament. This is one of four ligaments in the knee that help to stabilize it. Some ACL injuries do not need surgery. However, surgery is needed for severe injuries that affect the other structures of your knee, make your knee unstable and leave you in constant pain.
How Can You Tell If You Have an ACL Injury?
The way to definitively diagnose an ACL injury is through through a physical exam and imaging tests made by your doctor. But you may suspect you have the injury if you’ve fallen, twisted your knee or suffered a blow to your knee. When you first have an ACL injury, you might actually hear a “pop” followed by great pain and swelling in the area of your knee. The pain will increase if you try to put weight on or straighten your knee, and it may feel unstable. Your doctor will let you know if the injury is severe enough to require knee surgery.
ACK Reconstruction Surgery
During ACL reconstruction, the surgeon makes use of a graft to replace the ruptured ligament, which can’t repair itself. Most of the time the graft will be a tendon taken from somewhere else in your body such as the back of your thigh. In other cases, you may get a graft from a cadaver. Surgeons much prefer to use your own tissue because there’s no chance of rejection, and there’s less chance of the new ligament rupturing.
One popular type of ACL reconstruction is an hour-long, outpatient procedure, which means you can go home soon after the operation. It is a laparoscopic procedure, which means the surgeon uses a tiny camera and miniaturized tools to operate. This requires a few tiny incisions in your knee area as opposed to one large, open incision that will need a longer time to heal.
The surgeon inserts the camera to let them see the damaged ACL. It is removed through a small vacuum cannula, and the surgeon inspects the joint through the camera to see if there is any other damage. If there’s no more damages, they proceed with the reconstruction surgery.
The surgeon uses a tool to make a tunnel through your femur and a tunnel through your tibia. Both go through the knee joint. These tunnels anchor the graft, which is then collected, prepared and pulled through the upper hole and into the lower hole. The upper end of the graft is anchored by a tiny grappling hook, while the lower end is anchored by a screw. Over time, the screw fuses with the bone.
The tendon acts as a scaffold on which a new ligament grows. Don’t worry about losing the tendon from your thigh, because tendons regenerate.
After the surgery, the surgeon will put your knee in a brace that you will wear for at least four weeks. When the brace comes off, they’ll recommend you to a physical therapist to complete your recovery.
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POSMC is a full-service medical facility specializing in the evaluation and treatment of orthopedic injuries. The practice is led by a group of 12 board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. Contact us today!