An ACL reconstruction is a surgical procedure designed to replace a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) with a strong alternative ligament similar in diameter to the original and in the same anatomical location. Most commonly the medial hamstring tendons are used (the gracilis and semitendinosus) or the middle third of the patella tendon.
The surgery is required after an injury where the ligament is torn. This usually occurs when there is a sudden change of direction while playing sport, which may or may not involve another player. There are many other causes including motorcycle and car accidents.
Frequently Asked Questions
The diagnosis is often made prior to consultation. An X-ray and MRI scan is usually done prior to consultation with the Orthopaedic surgeon.
The Anterior Cruciate ligament is hardly ever injured in isolation and there may be cartilage (meniscal) damage or tears to other knee ligaments. A brace and crutches may be required.
After Orthopaedic consultation you should have a management plan.
Rehabilitation usually starts before surgery often with help from a physiotherapist after surgery.
I don't use anticoagulants as a routine (although many surgeons do) unless there is an increased individual risk. Please inform staff if you have a family history of blood clots.
I feel early mobilisation and avoidance of swelling is the best way of avoiding a DVT (deep vein thrombosis).
Supervised exercises can be started almost immediately. Ice, elevation and a compression bandage are important in the first 10 days.
Swimming must wait until after suture removal and complete healing of the wound (usually 2 weeks). Showering is safe after 48 hours.