An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the ligament that connects the upper leg bone with the lower leg bone. The upper leg bone (the femur) needs to be properly connected to the lower bone (the tibia) in order to support the knee and prevent problems such as the knees buckling or giving out. When injury occurs to the ACL, it not only causes the knees to give out, but it can cause a great deal of pain. To repair a torn ACL, there are different surgical methods for knee repair.
A torn ACL can lead to tissue damage and early osteoarthritis. ACL surgery is recommended for:
- Persistent knee pain
- Knee that gives way or is unstable during physical activity
- Inability to play sports or participate in usual activities
Reconstructive ACL Surgery
With reconstructive surgery, a graft is used to reconstruct the ACL. The graft tissue comes from other areas of your own body (autograft), which is more effective because your body is less likely to reject it as a foreign object. The graph is created from a tendon from the knee cap or from the hamstring. If this method is not used, then a tendon from a donor or cadaver (allograft) is used during the reconstructive surgery.
Types of Surgery
When surgery is done for a torn ACL at Beverly Hills Orthopedic Institute, it is performed arthroscopically with tiny incisions. Small incisions are made around the knee and then a fiberoptic camera is inserted to view the ACL through these small cuts. During the ACL reconstruction procedure, the orthopedic surgeon uses a sterile saline solution pumped into the knee to wash blood from the area.
The instruments are inserted through other small incisions. Once the remnants of the torn ACL are removed from the joint, the new ACL graft is pulled through the two tunnels that are drilled in the upper and lower leg bones. Arthroscopic surgery is preferred over open surgery for ACL injuries because it uses smaller incisions, there are fewer risks associated with it, and it makes it easier for the orthopedic doctor to work on the knee.
The typical ACL reconstruction surgery takes about two hours and patients are typically able to go home the same day afterwards.
Arthroscopic surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis, which means the patient goes home the same day. However, the Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon may choose for the patient to stay overnight for observation and additional care. Physical rehabilitation after ACL surgery can take many months, ranging from 4 to 6. With a successful repair and adequate healing, the knee can regain full function and range of motion.