When your ACL Injury Requires Surgery
The anterior cruciate ligament or ACL is one of the four main ligaments connecting the femur to the tibia. The ACL provides stability as you move your knee. A torn ACL may occur if your knee joint over rotates or if you receive a direct hit to the front of your knew. If your ACL tears trough completely, your orthopedic doctor may recommend surgery to repair it. Before your procedure you will receive either spinal anesthesia which will numb your body from the chest down or general anesthesia which will put you to sleep for the duration of the surgical procedure.
During this arthroscopic procedure, your orthopedic surgeon will make a few incisions around your knee though which he will insert surgical instruments including a camera. The camera will transmit images to a TV monitor which the surgeon will view during the procedure. First your orthopedic surgeon will remove the remaining portions of your torn ACL from your knee, then your surgeon will remove a portion of your patellar tendon to use as the graft or obtained donor tissue.
Later, your surgeon will create an attachment point of the graft by drilling a small tunnel in the end of your tibia. Then another to the end of your femur. After, your orthopedic surgeon will place one end of the patellar tendon graft in the tibial tunnel and then will pull the graft up through the knee joint into the femoral tunnel to create a new ACL tendon. Finally, your orthopedic surgeon will place small screws in the tunnels at either end of the new ACL to hold them in place.
What Happens After your ACL Surgery?
Over the next six to eight weeks, bone growth will fill the knees tunnels stabilizing the graft. At the end of the procedure, your doctor will remove the instruments and close the incisions. An ACL repair typically lasts two to two and a half hours. After the procedure you will go to the recovery room and stay there from two to three hours and then go home. You will need a knee brace and crutches for one to four weeks.
Two to three days after your surgery, you will need to start physical therapy. This will continue for six to ten weeks. Then you will need to continue with self-directed therapy for ten weeks more. It normally takes around nine months to recover from an ACL surgery.
Finally, you should avoid contact sports, racquet sports and any other type of sports requiring rapid direction changes. If you have any questions, make sure to always address your orthopedic surgeon before making any decision.
Orthopedic Corner | Leon Mead MD Orthopedic Doctor | 730 Goodlette Road North, Suite 201 Naples Florida 34102 | Phone: (239) 262-1119