ACL reconstruction offers hope to people suffering from traumatic injuries to ligaments in the knee…
WHAT IS ACL Reconstruction?
ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction is a surgical procedure to repair a torn ligament in the knee. During the procedure a surgeon prepares a tendon graft taken either from the patient’s own body or from a cadaver.
WHY IS ACL Reconstruction Done?
The ACL ligament is the tissue behind the kneecap (patella) that connects the shin bone (tibia) and the thigh (femur) bone. The knee is one of the most important joints in the body. The ACL is one of four ligaments that support and brace the knee against impact. Any sudden, wrenching movement can tear the ligament causing tissue damage and even precipitate the early onset of arthritis.
People who have damaged the ACL often report hearing a “popping noise” at the time the injury occurs. Typically, the injured knee will not be able to bear any weight, and will feel unstable as if it will give way at any moment. Within hours, the knee swells up because of blood pooling in the cavity between the femur and tibia. Injury to the ACL will be accompanied by intense pain and difficulty in bending the knee.
Injuries to the ACL are frequently seen in athletes, particularly those who play sports that require rapid starts and stops, jumping and frequent changes in direction.
However, it is not only athletes who are vulnerable to this type of injury. Older adults (40+) through the degenerative effects of ageing, or through awkward slips and falls, are also at risk There is increasing evidence that female athletes, particularly young girls, are at increased risk of tears to the ACL.
With a mild injury, the ACL may heal itself. Initially, the most common treatment is R.I.C.E. As every first-aider knows, R.I.C.E. stands for (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. In addition, a doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling. For more severe case, an orthopaedic surgeon may recommend ACL reconstructive surgery.
Six Benefits of ACL Reconstruction
- The patient may regain full range of movement and be able to return to previous levels of activity.
- Surgery can sometimes be done under a local anaesthetic.
- Prevent further tissue damage to the ACL.
- Help to prevent early onset arthritis.
- Provide relief from intense pain and swelling.
- Success rate ranges from 82% to 95%
How is ACL Reconstruction Performed?
An orthopaedic surgeon will carry out this delicate procedure, with the patient under a general or local anaesthetic. He or she replaces the damaged portion of the ACL with tendon graft taken from the patient’s own body (autograft) or with a tendon graft (allograft) taken from a cadaver. The new section of healthy ligament is attached to the femur and tibia with metal screws or staples. Post-operative treatment includes intensive physiotherapy together with rehabilitation training. This type of surgery is much less invasive than open surgery, and typically results in less scarring and a quicker recovery for the patient.