Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Surgery

What is anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery?

Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery involves making a new ligament to take the place of the torn ligament. A variety of techniques can be used. Dr Kennedy usually recommends using two of the hamstring muscle tendons to make the new ligament. The tendons are fashioned into a strong band or ‘graft’ and secured to the bones through holes or ‘tunnels’ using specifically designed fixing devices.

When is anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery recommended?

A torn anterior cruciate ligament usually cannot heal by itself. Without reconstructive surgery, the knee joint may be unstable causing damage to the articular cartilage of the femur or tibia and the menisci of the knee. Reconstructive surgery is indicated if the knee is symptomatically unstable or if you wish to resume a high-risk sport like football or netball.

Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction diagram

What does anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery involve?

Dr Kennedy will discuss the risks and benefits of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery with you during your consultation.

For most patients the surgery is carried out arthroscopically which is minimally invasive although a small open incision just below the knee is required to harvest the muscle tendon.

The surgery usually involves an overnight stay in hospital and the use of crutches for about three weeks afterwards. A knee splint is usually not required and you can take weight through the knee.

How long will it take to recover from anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery?

Recovery varies from patient to patient. Crutches are used to reduce weight bearing for a few weeks. You will need to wait at least 4-6 weeks before taking on light work or driving but strenuous sport should be avoided for at least a year after surgery.

It can take up to a year for the bone to heal completely around the grafted tendon and you will need to commit to a rehabilitation programme during this time for your knee to feel strong again and to achieve a good range of movement.