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acl reconstruction surgery patientACL reconstruction is surgery to repair an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL. As one of the major ligaments in the knee, a tear to the ACL can result in severe pain and debilitation. Some less severe injuries may heal with rest and rehabilitation, while more severe tears might require surgical repair. The specialists at Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio offer a variety of treatment options for ACL injuries, including surgical reconstruction when necessary.

ACL Overview

The ACL is the ligament that extends from the shinbone to the thighbone, holding together the bones of the knee and keeping this critical joint stable. When the ligament becomes damaged, it can become difficult to put weight on the joint. Sudden stops or direction changes, such as those done by soccer, basketball and volleyball players, can lead to these injuries.

In the event of a complete ACL tear, surgery may be necessary. If the ligament is left to heal on its own, it may result in recurrent instability in the joint, which can feel like the knee is “giving out.” Some individuals find these symptoms restrict them from performing certain activities, which can significantly impact their quality of life.

What is ACL Reconstruction?

An ACL reconstruction is a surgery that repairs severe damage to the ACL. The procedure removes the torn ligament and replaces it with tissue from a donor. For young and active patients, ACL reconstruction is often the only method of ACL treatment that offers satisfactory results.

Is ACL Reconstruction Right for You?

While ACL reconstruction offers substantial benefits in the right patient, it is not appropriate for everyone. Factors to weigh when considering surgery include:

Level of Function

If you can heal from your ACL injury and resume nearly all your usual activities, surgery may not be necessary. However, if you are a serious athlete, surgery may be needed to maximize your function.

Additional Damage

If your orthopedist believes surgery will help prevent future damage to the knee cartilage, surgical ACL reconstruction might be the right choice for you.

Age and Overall Health

If the benefits of surgery do not outweigh potential health risks, conservative treatment might be a better choice for you.

ACL Reconstruction Overview

ACL reconstruction is typically performed on an outpatient basis using general anesthesia. Because the surgery is performed arthroscopically, incisions are usually quite small. One incision is made to insert a tiny camera called an arthroscope, while the other is used to place the necessary instruments into the surgical area to make the repair.

During your surgery, the surgeon will remove the torn ligament and replace it with the donor tissue. The graft is positioned and anchored to your joint using a fixation device like a screw. Most patients go home a few hours after surgery.

Recovery from ACL Reconstruction

You will use crutches after your surgery, so you don’t put weight on the knee. We will give you instructions on how to manage swelling and discomfort using ice and medication. Rehabilitation is usually needed to restore strength and function to the joint. Most patients are back to their regular activities within about six to nine months, although athletes may need up to one year to resume their pre-surgery performance level.

ACL injuries can be extremely painful and even life changing. In some cases, surgery is the only method to restore your function and your quality of life. To learn more about this procedure, contact Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio at 419-222-6622.