Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction
What is anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction?
The ACL is one of the four main ligaments within the knee that connect the lower legs bones to the upper leg bone through the knee joint. The ACL runs diagonally in the middle of the knee to provide stability as the knee twists and moves. When the tendon is severely injured, it cannot be sewn back together, so a tendon from another part of the body or a donor ligament is used to rebuild the ACL.
What is it for?
ACL injuries most commonly occur during sports that involve sudden stops and changes in direction — such as basketball, soccer, football and volleyball. Other injuries like falls or car accidents can cause severe damage as well.
Am I a candidate?
After a full medical history, physical exam and certain tests, you and your physician will discuss if you are a candidate for surgery. Some health conditions or medications may prevent you from having this type of surgery.
What does ACL reconstruction involve?
ACL surgery is usually performed through arthroscopy that uses a tiny camera and instruments inserted through small incisions around the joint. This minimally invasive approach means that there may be fewer complications from bleeding and infection.
ACL reconstruction requires a graft, or piece of tendon from another part of the body or a cadaver donor. The graft is attached to the damaged ACL so that, as it heals, it makes a more stable connection between the lower and upper leg bones.
What is recovery like?
After surgery, you will probably need to keep your knee in a brace for three or four weeks. Your physician will also prescribe some exercises to do at home as you begin to heal. As healing progresses, you will do more physical therapy to include more range of motion and other exercises. Full recovery may take several months. Athletes can usually resume sports within six to 12 months.Previous Page Last Review Date: January 5, 2018