Surgery for Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is a band of tough, fibrous tissue
that stabilizes the knee. Injury to this ligament often occurs when the
knee is forced beyond its normal range of motion. This can stretch or
tear the ligament, much like the fibers of a rope coming apart. For severe
injuries, surgery is often necessary to repair the ligament.
Preparing for Surgery
Stop taking aspirin and other medications as advised by your doctor 7 days
Arrange to get crutches to use during recovery.
Don't eat or drink 10 hours before surgery.
Arrange for an adult to drive you home after surgery.
The most common type of surgery for an ACL injury is reconstruction. This
involves replacing the torn ligament with new tissue (a graft). This graft
may be a ligament or tendon from your own knee (an autograft) or from
a donor (an allograft). To rebuild your ACL, your doctor may combine open
surgery with arthroscopy. During arthroscopy, a tiny camera lets your
doctor see inside the joint. Tools inserted through small incisions are
used to repair the joint.
You'll spend a few hours in a recovery area. You'll have ice on
your knee to prevent swelling, and your leg may be in a brace.
Depending on the procedure, physical therapy may begin shortly after surgery.
This may include light exercises. In some cases, you may use a CPM (continuous
passive motion) machine for a time. This machine flexes and extends the
knee, keeping it from getting stiff.
You can usually go home the same day as surgery. Have an adult family member
or friend give you a ride.