Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) repair is a procedure used to rebuild the ligament in the center portion of the knee. The ACL keeps the tibia (shinbone) in place. When this ligament is torn or damaged, it can cause the knee to buckle during physical activity.
How common is ACL ligament repair?
The ACL is one of the most commonly injured ligaments in the knee. Around 200,000 people suffer some sort of injury to the ACL, and 100,000 ACL repair surgeries are performed annually. ACL injury incidence is higher in people who participate in high-risk activities, such as skiing, football, basketball, and soccer. It is common to see an injured ACL in combination with injury to the meniscus, collateral ligament, articular cartilage, and/or joint capsule.
What tissue is used to make the repair?
The ACL is often repaired using tissue grafting. The graft taken from the patient’s own body is called an autograft. The most common area for taking tissue is the hamstring tendon (kneecap tendon). When not possible to use the patient’s own tissue, an allograft (cadaver tissue) is used.
Why is ACL repair necessary?
ACL repair is done because the knee becomes unstable after a tear in this ligament. This will increase the chance of a meniscus tear. ACL repair is also used for treating knee problems, such as:
- Knee pain
- Knee instability
- Inability to participate in usual activities
How do I prepare for ACL surgery?
After surgery, you will not be able to bear weight on the knee, so you should prepare your home. Have items you need within reach, and stock up on supplies. You need to arrange to have someone drive you home, and should notify the doctor of all blood thinners you are taking, as some of these must be held for several days before the procedure.
What happens when I arrive at the surgery center?
Be sure to arrive at the surgery center 60 minutes before your scheduled procedure. A nurse will go over the risks and benefits of the procedure, and ask you to sign a form of consent. After you change into a gown, the nurse will place an IV catheter in your arm.
How is the ACL repair performed?
After receiving anesthesia, the Gilbert sports medicine surgeon makes small incisions over the knee. The tiny, lighted camera is inserted into the knee so the doctor can visualize the structures (arthroscopic). The surgeon uses the camera and monitor to check the ligaments and repair the
damaged structure using graft tissue. The graft is attached using screws and pins to hold it in place. After all repairs are made, the surgeon closes the incisions with sutures, and covers the area with a dressing.
What happens after surgery?
You will need time and effort if you wish to fully recover. You must follow a rehabilitation program for 4-6 months, and your ability to return to full activity depends on how well you follow this program.
What is the success rate of surgical ACL reconstruction?
Patients who have surgical reconstruction of the ACL have a success rate of 82-95%, according to clinical studies. Only 8% of patients experience graft failure or recurrent instability.