ACL Reconstruction & Repair

What is the ACL?

ACL stands for the anterior cruciate ligament. Located in the middle of your knees, this ligament runs diagonally. This ligament provides rotational stability to the tibia and prevents it from getting out of place.

The ACL can get injured while playing tennis, soccer, basketball, or anything that puts pressure on your knees. The ACL can become completely or partially torn. If it is completely torn, you will need reconstructive surgery.

Symptoms and Causes of ACL Injury

Symptoms:

  • Inability to move the knee
  • A popping sensation
  • Swelling
  • Instability
  • Extreme pain

Common causes:

  • Injury while jumping
  • Sudden stopping
  • A fall while skiing
  • A forceful blow

To confirm the ACL injury, you need an MRI. The MRI also confirms bone bruises and cartilage injury and shows if the meniscus is torn.

Surgical Treatments

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction

Your surgeon makes a small incision inside your knee. She replaces the injured ligament with a graft. The graft can be a cadaver allograft or hamstring tendon. Tunnels are drilled into your thigh bone and shin bone, . The new graft is then threaded through the tunnels. To prevent the graft from getting displaced, your surgeon uses screws or buttons.

This ambulatory surgery is a quick process. You can come and go on the same day in Atlanta.

Possible risks include nerve damage, blood clot, and postoperative infection. Surgery-specific risks are postoperative stiffness and re-tear.

While you are taking pain medication, you may not be allowed to drive. If the surgery has been performed on your right-side knee, you will have to avoid driving for about 6 weeks.

Your physician will let you know when it is safe. Typically, it may take about 5 months after your surgery in Atlanta. To some extent, it depends on how strong your quadriceps are. When you have gained some range of motion, you can resume biking. You can start running once you have demonstrated adequate quadriceps strength.

ACL Repair

Overview

In the United States, about 100,000-200,000 adults and adolescents experience ACL ruptures or tears each year. To treat ACL ruptures or tears, physicians usually use ACL reconstruction. In Atlanta, you can easily get ACL reconstruction and repair.

Experts are studying issues such as the increased complications and risks of the procedure, as well as the recovery time. Within 10 years after the surgery, many patients develop arthritis. Experts are trying to find ways to deal with this issue.

Modern developments

In the 1980s, surgeons attempted to repair the ACL. Until that time, reconstruction was not their consideration. However, this approach was not very effective. The results were mediocre (success rate was about 50%). Due to this low level of success, many surgeons avoided surgical repair in the 1990s.

However, things changed when the newer arthroscopic techniques arrived. Now certain types of tears can be repaired. Patients with tears at the thigh bone are good candidates for this surgical treatment.

Identifying the severity of tears has been possible mainly because of modern MRI. Thanks to technical advancement, anatomically repairing the ACL is now possible.

Why repair?

ACL repair has some more advantages than ACL reconstruction. It induces less trauma to the knee. This means less swelling and more range of motion. Muscles of the knee start functioning more quickly. Repair is good in terms of proprioceptive function. It also requires a shorter recovery time.

Repair Vs. Reconstruction: What’s the Difference?

ACL tears can be very painful because the ACL is one of four main ligaments holding your knee together. These four ligaments are responsible for the rotation of your knee. You need medical help to treat ACL tears.

As we have mentioned, ACL tears make movement very difficult. If you have ACL tears, you will also experience swelling and severe pain. Your surgeon will use an MRI to review the ligament that has been damaged. She will determine whether you need surgery in Atlanta.

But how does a surgeon determine whether you need an ACL reconstruction or ACL repair? Well, it depends on how badly damaged your ligament is. The goal of an ACL repair is to reattach the ligament that has been torn. The procedure is minimally invasive. The recovery time is short. Physical therapy is required for both methods. Once the ACL has been repaired, the body has the ability to repair the damaged ligament.

The repair has another advantage: the recovery time is a lot shorter.  Once the damaged ligament has been repaired, the body can repair itself. It comes down to the degree of damage, and the needs of the patient. If the appropriate surgical procedure is applied, the patient can start walking again.

More on ACL Reconstruction

If you are taking any dietary supplements or medication, let your surgeon know that. You may need to stop taking any blood-thinning medication such as aspirin. Your doctor will tell you when to stop taking the medications.

During ACL reconstruction, surgeons typically use general anaesthesia. This means that during the procedure, you will be pretty comfortable. As we have mentioned, the surgery requires making small incisions.

The damaged ligament is removed and then it is replaced with a part of the tendon known as a graft. This replacement tissue is taken from your knee. It can also come from a deceased person. To position the graft accurately, tunnels or sockets are drilled into your shinbone or thighbone. Your surgeon then uses fixation devices such as screws to secure the graft to the bones. The ligament tissue grows on the graft, which works as scaffolding.

Once the effect of anaesthesia has waned, you can leave the hospital in Atlanta the same day. Your surgeon may give you crutches to practice walking. You may also be given a knee brace. You will have to follow the instructions given by your doctor in order to control pain and swelling.

To control pain, over-the-counter medications are used. These include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen sodium. Depending on your condition, you may need stronger medications like gabapentin and vivlodex.

Your surgeon will give you advice on using crutches and icing your knee. If you are given opioids, you should take them just for breakthrough pain. The reason is simple: opioids have unpleasant side effects.

ACL reconstruction can restore the function and stability of your knee. You will regain some range of motion in just a few weeks. For the best results, ACL reconstruction must be paired with proper rehabilitation.

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