ACL Reconstruction – Frequently Asked Questions

What is ACL reconstruction?

Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, also known as ACL reconstruction, is surgery which is used to reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL is a key ligament in the knee, connecting the back of the femur bone to the front of the tibia bone.

What causes the need for an ACL reconstruction?

ACL reconstruction is typically required to address a torn and non-functional ACL. An ACL reconstruction can prevent the worsening of knee cartilage condition in the long term which can occur if the knee keeps giving way due to the torn ACL not controlling the stability of the knee.

Many ACL reconstructions are needed by sports players who play sports involving jumping and sudden changes of direction. – such as basketballers, skiers or footballers, rugby players and netballers. The and many other sports need the ACL to be working properly to stabilize the knee and stop it from collapsing during the game.

Which symptoms might I expect prior to needing an ACL reconstruction?

The symptoms which might indicate an injury that could require an ACL reconstruction include: The inability to continue a certain activity due to the knee collapsing or giving way; a popping feeling in the knee region can sometimes be described; pronounced swelling usually occurs immediately after the ACL is injured but can also occur when the knee subsequently gives way; instability.

What does an ACL reconstruction involve?

ACL reconstruction surgery is done via a mini open approach by Professor Jari.

The procedure uses grafts to replace the ligament, which is made from another part of the patient’s body such as part of the patellar tendon from the kneecap. This is known as an autograft. After it is passed from the tibia to the femur, the graft is held in place using posts or screws.

What preparation is needed for an ACL reconstruction?

Patients will undergo pre-habilitation to prepare them mentally and physically for the surgery and the recovery from the surgery. Prior to the operation, an anaethetist will discuss the anaesthesia with the patient before entering the operating theatre.

How long does recovery take following an ACL reconstruction?

After the operation, you will stay in a recovery room for a short while after the procedure, while the anaesthetic wears off. The patient will stay in hospital overnight and have a strong pain killer through their veins while also undergoing the rehabilitation process. The patient can then go home the next day to continue the rehabilitation. If your job involves heavy lifting or long periods of standing, it might be a few months before you can resume your usual duties. If your job is office based, you may be back to work within 3-6 weeks. Typically, intensive sporting activities can only be resumed dependent on the rehabilitation progress. The average time to return to full sports can be between 6-9 months depending on how much time you dedicate to your rehab. However, you will hopefully be back to gym based exercise by about two months from the operation, if all is progressing well.