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ACL Repair Surgery at Our Los Angeles Center

Your knee joint is composed of four ligaments that connect bones in your thigh to bones in your lower leg: the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL). The ACL runs in the front middle of the knee and secures the thighbone to the tibia, the larger of your two lower leg bones. The ACL also is responsible for providing stability if you have to change your position suddenly, such as a pivot in basketball.

Because the ACL has so many big and important jobs for keeping your knee joint stable, it can be easily injured. An ACL tear is a common athletic injury, especially for those who play basketball, football, soccer or ski. More than 100,000 ACL reconstruction surgeries are performed each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

An ACL tear does not cause an immediate injury reaction. However, you may feel a “pop” during physical activity and later experience ACL-related symptoms, such as:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Instability in the knee joint
  • Tenderness along the knee joint
  • Pain that worsens with walking

 

Your miVIP Surgery Centers physician can use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans or x-rays to evaluate the extent of the damage to your ACL.

About ACL Repair

While some ligaments can heal on their own, the ACL does not heal when torn. Surgeons had also attempted sewing the damaged ligament back together, but this approach had poor surgical outcomes.

For these reasons, surgical reconstruction is typically the only treatment option should you wish to restore strength and stability to the leg. The choice for surgery often depends upon your individual activity goals and how much knee joint instability you are willing to deal with on a daily basis.

Surgeons at miVIP Surgery Centers perform arthroscopic ACL repair as a minimally invasive outpatient surgery. This surgery involves placing you under general anesthesia, which means you are in a deep sleep where you will feel no pain during the surgery. Your physician will make several small incisions around the knee that are roughly one-fourth of an inch in length and insert an arthroscope, which is a thin, flexible tube with a small camera on the end. The arthroscope allows your surgeon to visualize the inner portion of your knee.

Your surgeon will utilize either a tendon graft from your own body or from a donor to repair the injured ligament. Your surgeon will remove the damaged ligament and place the new ligament using a guidewire to thread the new ligament through. If you have damage to surrounding structures, such as your cartilage or meniscus, your physician also will remove the injured tissue. After carefully securing the new ligament in place, the surgeon will remove all instruments and close the incisions with stitches or surgical tape.

Surgical success for ACL reconstruction is about 82 to 95 percent, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. If desired, you may be able to return to sports in the months after recovery from ACL repair.

ACL Repair Risks and Rewards

Before arthroscopic ACL surgery, ACL repair used to require a large incision to access the ligament. Making smaller incisions offers several benefits, including:

  • Smaller surgical scar
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Less bleeding
  • Less infection risk

 

However, your physician will discuss risks associated with the surgery and recommend ways to minimize these risks. Redness, fever, pain and swelling can be expected following surgery, but should minimize with time. Your physician will likely prescribe pain medication and recommend icing the knee to minimize discomfort.

One important aspect of ACL repair is undergoing physical therapy following surgery. A physical therapist can help you perform exercises that strengthen the muscles around your ligaments and restore flexibility and function. You can expect at least six weeks of recovery time, but can return to light work within a few days of the procedure.

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