The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is responsible for controlling rotational stability of the knee. When the ACL is torn, the knee is unstable for activities involving pivoting, twisting or accelerating. If these stresses are applied to the knee then it may give way.
Each time the knee gives way it can cause damage to the joint surface and/or the meniscus cartilages. Continued damage will eventually result in wear and tear – Arthritis.
The process is slow; in the meantime there are things that you cannot do as effectively because the knee gives way.
The choice is to alter lifestyle activities thus avoiding these stresses and activities or to undergo anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.
What happens during ACL Reconstruction Surgery?
The Surgery is aimed at replacing the deficient ACL with a graft ligament. The graft can be taken from either the hamstring tendons or from the ligament just below the knee cap (the patella ligament) with a small piece of bone from the patella and the tibia. This graft is then placed in the knee joint through drill holes in the bones and held with screws and/or staples. The procedure is done mostly arthroscopically with a small incision to take the graft. Any other procedure required is usually done at the same time.
This surgery involves a general or spinal anaesthetic and potentially a hospital stay of 1 or 2 nights. Most cases are planned as day cases.
ACL Reconstruction Surgery Results
A good or excellent result for improving stability is expected in 95-97% of cases (depending on age and other factors). 80-90% of patients with no associated injuries should be able to return their original level of sport.