What is ACL? And what is ACL reconstruction?
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is a band like important tissue present within the knee joint. It maintains knee stability during sports while making sudden deceleration, rotation, pivoting type of knee movements, and can be injured or torn during these instances. ACL reconstruction is the process of making the new ACL ligament and incorporating it with femur bone on the upper and tibia on the lower side.
How is this surgery done?
Ligament reconstruction means making new ligament instead of repairing the injured/torn ligament. The tissue from which ligament is reconstructed is called a graft. The graft can be taken from the patient’s own body (autograft) or can be taken from another person (Allograft). Usually, hamstrings or patellar tendons are taken as a graft.
The grafts, after harvesting, are made in size and length similar to patients’ native ACL and are placed inside the knee joint and fixed with either screws or tapes. A knee brace is applied immediately after surgery to protect the graft.
Who needs this surgery?
Not all patients with ACL injury require reconstructive surgery. Usually, young patients who are physically active, or are athletes, or have meniscus tears along with ACL tear absolutely require surgery. Older patients or patients who are not involved in sports sometimes do not require surgery and physiotherapy is considered to be sufficient.
Can I walk after surgery?
Patients are allowed to walk immediately after surgery. Physiotherapy also includes knee movement exercises, but it should be performed under the supervision of a physiotherapist.
How long does it take to return to sports? What is the result of surgery>
Rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction is a slow and steady process and depends significantly on the motivation of the patients too. Within the first few weeks after surgery, gaining the knee range of motion is the prime target and full recovery takes about 9 months. Return to sports is often allowed after 9-12 months.
Is this surgery risky?
Every surgery has its own risks. The surgery is performed under anesthesia, so anesthetic risks are always there. Other risks include wound site infections, patella fracture, knee pain and stiffness, graft rupture, and failed reconstruction.
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