The ACL is one of the knee’s major ligaments. In ACL surgery, the damaged ligament is removed. The ligament is replaced with a piece of the tendon which is taken either from a healthy part of the knee or with one from a deceased donor. Typically, this type of surgery is an outpatient procedure. Here are some questions to ask the doctor prior to ACL surgery.
1. What does ACL surgery involve?
ACL surgery is a procedure that is used to reconstruct a damaged ACL using a piece of tendon from the patient undergoing surgery or from a deceased person. The replacement tissue could be a kneecap tendon or a hamstring tendon. The surgeon drills into the patient’s shinbone in order to place the tissue accurately. Once the bone is positioned, screws are used so that the joint will stay in place, forming a scaffolding for a new ligament to grow.
2. How long is the recovery process?
After ACL surgery, the patient will remain in the recovery room until the anesthetic has worn off. A nurse will help the patient to walk with crutches and show the patient how to change the wound’s dressing. The patient will be able to go home the same day. Ice packs can be used to treat swelling. Physical therapy will be needed to help strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee.
3. When is it safe to return to work?
When the patient is ready to go back to work will depend on the type of job the patient. For example, if the patient has a sedentary job, the patient may be able to return to work within a week after surgery. However, if the patient’s job involves standing all day, which puts pressure on the reconstructed knee, returning to work may not be possible for up to six weeks.
4. Who is a good candidate for ACL surgery?
People who are active, particularly athletes whose sport involves pivoting are good candidates for ACL surgery. This type of surgery is beneficial for people who have been through a rehabilitation program but are still experiencing knee instability. ACL surgery can also benefit people who have injured more than one knee ligament.
5. Is ACL surgery the right option for every person?
There is a non-surgical alternative to ACL reconstruction surgery. This is known as a percutaneous ACL repair. Rather than removing the damaged ligament and replacing the ligament with a harvested tendon, this procedure involves injecting a concentrate of the patient’s bone marrow stem cells into the ACL.
6. What are the risks of ACL surgery?
Like any other type of surgery, ACL surgery is not without its risks. Risks may include blood clots and bleeding, knee pain or stiffness, reduced range of motion, and infection. Healing may not take place if the implant is rejected by the patient’s body.
Talk to an orthopedic surgeon
An ACL injury can be debilitating. The injury should be treated as soon as possible. Patients who have sustained an ACL injury and who are considering reconstruction surgery should discuss options with a physician.