What is ACL reconstruction surgery?

Anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, reconstruction surgery is used to repair or reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament. It is typically performed via arthroscopic surgery, and on some occasions, can involve open surgery.

A key element of the procedure is the replacing of the ligament itself, which is done by using a graft. The graft is commonly taken from part of the patient’s body (known as an ‘autograft’) for instance, the hamstring tendon or the kneecap tendon known as the patellar tendon.

In the case of arthroscopic ACL reconstruction surgery, small incisions are made in the knee for the inserting of instruments. Open surgery involves a larger incision being made.

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Why might I need ACL reconstruction surgery?

ACL reconstruction surgery will be needed by those whose knee is not functioning normally. ACL reconstruction surgery not only repairs any damage but also prevents further damage from worsening the condition of the knee cartilage.

Many sports place a lot of pressure on the ACL, and for this reason, ACL reconstruction surgery patients include sports players who wish to return to participating in games such as football, basketball or skiing after an ACL tear.

What can I expect from the procedure?

Before the procedure, you might have your knee shaved if required, you’ll be asked to remove any jewellery, and to wear a hospital gown. We’ll discuss the method of anaesthesia required with a highly trained anaesthesiologist, before entering the operating theatre for your surgery.

After the anaesthetist has administered regional or general anaesthesia, over the course of approximately two hours, several small incisions will be made in the course of an arthroscopic surgery, allowing a graft or autograft to be made. The graft is passed up to the tibia or femur, and screws or posts are used to secure it in place.

You’ll stay in a recovery room for at least two hours following the procedure, allowing the anaesthetic some time to wear off and for us to ensure that the procedure has been a success. After that, you’re free to go home and rest, and we’ll advise you on when you can go back to work and the best way to ensure a full and fast recovery.

Recovery time

Nutrition is important for ACL reconstruction surgery, and foods which have anti-inflammatory benefits and provide protein are recommended, as well as high fibre foods which benefit the digestive system, including fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood and whole grains.

Depending on the nature of your job, return to work can be possible as little as a week after surgery. For jobs which require standing and heavy lifting, from one to four months rest time might be required to work safely. In terms of exercise, generally jogging and cycling can be possible four months after surgery, while beginning intensive gym work might only be advised after a six to eight-month break. In any case, Mr Mann will ensure that you have all the advice and support you need in making a full recovery.

If you want to learn more about ACL reconstruction surgery or have any questions about the procedure, feel free to contact us for more information or to make an enquiry.