The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is susceptible to sports injuries and when torn can be replaced by your orthopedic surgeon with another segment from your knee.
ACL reconstruction is a surgical procedure to replace a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) — one of the major ligaments in the knee. ACL injuries most commonly occur during sudden stops and changes in direction — such as while playing sports like basketball, soccer, football, tennis, downhill skiing, volleyball and gymnastics.
In an ACL reconstruction, the torn ligament is surgically removed and replaced with a piece of tendon from another part of the knee or from a deceased donor. This surgery is an outpatient procedure that is performed through small incisions around the knee joint.
An ACL reconstruction is performed by an orthopedic surgeon (doctor who specializes in surgical procedures of the bones and joints).
Ligaments are strong fibres of tissue arranged in bands that connect one bone to another. The ACL connects the thighbone (femur) to bone of lower leg (tibia) and helps stabilize the knee joint.
Most ACL injuries happen during sports and fitness activities cause they may put stress on the knee.
Physical therapy successfully treats a minor ACL injury for individuals who engage in moderate exercise and recreational activities.
ACL reconstruction is generally recommended for athletes or if the injury is extensive and buckles during everyday activities
ACL reconstruction is a surgical procedure. Like any surgery, bleeding and infection at the surgical site are potential risks. Other risks associated with ACL reconstruction include:
- Knee pain
- stiffness or weakness
- Poor healing of the graft
- Persistance of symptom relief
Before your surgery, the patient has to undergo several weeks of physical therapy to reduce pain and swelling, restore your knee's full range of motion and strengthen muscles.
ACL reconstruction is an outpatient procedure, so the patient us usually able to go home later that same day.
Food and medications
The patient may be asked to stop taking aspirin and other blood-thinners for at least a week before surgery to reduce your risk of bleeding.
Mostly, general anesthesia is used during ACL reconstruction, so the patient remains unconscious during the procedure. ACL reconstruction is usually done through more than one small incisions.
The damaged ligament is replaced with a segment of tendon (tissue similar to a ligament that connects muscle to bone). This replacement tissue is called a graft.
It is then secured to the bones with screws or other fixation devices. The graft serves as scaffolding on which new ligament tissue can grow.
After the procedure
Once you recover from the anesthesia, the patient practices walking with crutches, and needs to wear a knee brace or splint to help protect the graft.
To reduce swelling and pain in the days immediately following your surgery, the R.I.C.E. model of self-care should be followed at home:
- Rest: General rest is necessary for recovery after surgery.
- Ice: When awake, try to ice the knee at least every two hours for 20 minutes at a time.
- Compression: Wrap an elastic bandage or compression wrap around the knee.
- Elevation: Lie down with knee propped up on pillows.
Adhering to a rehabilitation plan is essential for proper healing and achieving the best possible outcomes.
After surgery, you should work hard to regain knee range of motion equal to that of your opposite knee. Athletes usually return to their sports after eight to twelve months.
Dr Ameet Pispati is one of the best Orthopeadic Surgeon to consult in
Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Peddar Road, Mumbai for sports related injuries. There are also many other well known Orthopeadics you can consult for mild or moderate sport injuries at Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central, Mumbai.