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 start physiotherapy 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 various methods of fixation to bone. 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.