Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery is needed for an ACL injury, which is a tear in one of the most important knee ligaments. ACL injuries can cause long-term knee pain and instability.
What is ACL surgery?
ACL surgery is typically arthroscopic surgery carried out by an orthopedic surgeon. Arthroscopic surgery involves small incisions through which the surgeon inserts small surgical instruments to reconstruct the ACL.
ACL reconstruction surgery
Surgery that reconstructs a torn ACL by replacing the ligament with a piece of tendon from elsewhere in your body (an autograft) or from a donor (an allograft). ACL reconstruction surgery typically requires a course of physical therapy in advance of surgery.
What does ACL surgery treat?
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) joins the upper leg bone to the lower leg bone. It helps to stabilize the knee, which makes it a very important ligament. An ACL injury is a tear in the ACL ligament that typically happens during sports and fitness activities, such as soccer, skiing, basketball, and gymnastics. These activities involve a lot of sudden and sharp turns, stops, and twists that can tear the ACL.
An ACL injury can be severe if the ACL tears completely or separates, along with part of the bone, from the rest of the bone.
ACL injuries cause knee instability that can lead to long-term knee problems without ACL surgery. ACL surgery is particularly recommended for young, active people.
ACL surgery is recommended if:
- An ACL injury weakens the knee so that it buckles during twisting and pivoting activities
- A patient wants to continue taking part in certain sports and fitness activities, especially ones that involve a lot of jumps or sudden stops and turns
ACL surgery results
Successful ACL reconstruction, followed by a course of physiotherapy rehabilitation, helps patients restore full range of motion to the knee and return to pre-injury knee strength and stability. Patients should be able to return to sports and activities within a year, although every patient’s recovery time is different. ACL surgery also limits the loss of knee function over the long-term and helps prevent further knee injuries.
Preparing for ACL surgery
If you have not had an MRI already, one will be required prior to consultation/surgery to confirm your diagnosis.
Depending on the surgeon’s recommendations, patients may undertake some pre-surgery physiotherapy to reduce swelling and help the knee heal faster post-surgery and regain the full range of motion.
With ACL repair surgery, the patient should be admitted as quickly as possible.
What to expect with ACL surgery
Typically, ACL surgery requires general anesthesia. This means the patient is unconscious for the duration of the procedure. During arthroscopic ACL reconstruction surgery, the surgeon first makes two or three small incisions around the knee. This allows the surgeon to insert a thin camera, called an arthroscope, and small surgical instruments to carry out the surgery.
The surgeon removes the damaged ligament and replaces it with a piece of tendon from the patient’s body or from a donor. This is known as a graft. If the tendon comes from the patient’s body, the surgeon first makes an additional incision to take the replacement tendon tissue.
The surgeon then secures the graft to the upper and lower leg bones in the right position using screws or staples. The new ligament replaces the graft. The knee incisions are then closed with stitches or tape before the knee is bandaged and the patient is taken to a recovery room. Patients are usually discharged after another two or three hours.
ACL surgery is typically an outpatient procedure that doesn’t require an overnight stay. The patient will need someone to drive them home.
Recovery after ACL surgery
After a recovery period of a few hours, the patient is given crutches and instructions for using them. The surgeon might also require a knee brace or other protective device to be worn. Patients receive instruction on how to bathe and dress the wound, and other post-surgery self-care.
Patients are likely to feel tired after surgery for a few days, as well as numb in the areas around the incisions. Patients may also see bruising on their leg and ankle. After a few days, patients should feel better and see an improvement in the mobility of their knee.
Physical therapy rehabilitation is typically required for four to six months post-surgery to restore full function and range of movement to the knee. After that, it should be possible to return to sports and activities, although the time that takes depends on individual patients.
Get ACL surgery with Centric Health
Many men and women from across Canada and all over the world choose Centric Health Surgical Centres for ACL surgery. Our orthopedic surgeons have years of experience and excellence in performance and outcome with this procedure. They are committed to helping you regain full motion in your knee so that you can take part in sports and other activities again. We strive to provide exceptional pre- and post-operative care. Combined with our patient-centred philosophy, we aim to provide all our patients with a compassionate, caring, and rewarding experience.
Next steps: Book your ACL consultation today
If you are ready to discuss your ACL surgery needs with our orthopedic surgeons, contact us to learn more and request a consultation today.
To discover your health options your patient care adviser will discuss:
- Your medical history
- Incision techniques
- Potential risks and complications