ACL reconstruction surgery – know the facts
Anterior Cruciate Ligament reconstruction is carried out using keyhole surgery where a tendon from another body part to replace the damaged ACL. This fibrous tissue is an important element of the knee joint as helps in motion and stability. Tear or spraining of this ligament is one of the most common injuries in the human body and often occurs when playing or participating in sports such as skiing, basketball, football or rugby.
Why have ACL reconstruction?
If you are experiencing problems with your knee such as pain, instability and weakness, this damage can be operated on under general anaesthetic. If your quality of life has been affected, or you are unable to efficiently carry out your tasks at work your doctor may conduct throughout X-rays and MRI scans prior to referring you as a candidate for this surgery.
How to prepare for surgery
If you have any inflammation around the affected area or stiffness, you will need to rest prior to surgery until this has healed. Ideally you should have no main and full motion going into surgery for maximum results from the operation. In the run up to your surgery date you should undertake gentle exercise as directed by a physiotherapist to strengthen muscles, reduce swelling and support recovery.
At a pre-surgery appointment with your consultant you should be made fully aware of the complete process including rehabilitation. They will advise on checks that will be undertaken and advise on anaesthesia.
Know the risks
As with any surgery it is necessary to be in general good health and you may undergo tests to check your heart and risk of infection. Your clinician will advise on risk factors from ACL surgery such as:
- Blood clots
- Unsightly scarring
If you are a smoker you will be asked to cease to prevent blood clotting and infection risk. If you have scarring or an open wound below the affected area, this may impact the date of surgery. Your consultant may decide to postpone until this has healed to alleviate the chance of infection.
The benefits of ACL reconstruction
Post-surgery, once you are weight bearing you will be permitted to return home from hospital – this may be with support aids such as crutches. In time, if your operation is successful, your knee will feel stable no longer giving way or causing pain.
Many patients ask about ACL reconstruction surgery recovery time. This differs on the complexity of the operation and on each individual patient case. After resting and following a direct rehabilitation programme, you expect to return to physical sports within 2 months. You may need to take four to six weeks off work. As part of your recovery you will be asked to wear a knee brace to give your leg extra support and to follow an intense physiotherapy programme. It’s important not to over exert the knee and allow it to fully heal before participating in physical sports or diving long distances.