What does the operation involve?
Your surgeon will make one or more incisions around your knee. They will usually perform the operation by an arthroscopy (keyhole surgery), using a camera to see inside your knee. Your surgeon will replace the ACL with a piece of suitable tissue from another area of your body.
Two sources of replacement material for ACL reconstruction are commonly used:
- Autografts (employing bone or tissue harvested from the patient's body)
- Allografts (using bone or tissue from another body, either a cadaver or a live donor).
The ends of the replacement ligament are fixed with special screws or anchors into holes drilled in the bone.
The operation usually takes an hour to 90 minutes. Various anaesthetic techniques are possible, which you can discuss with the anaesthetist beforehand.
What complications can happen during surgery?
Complications of anaesthesia
Your anaesthetist will be able to discuss with you the possible complications of having an anaesthetic.
General complications of ACL reconstruction surgery
• Infection of the surgical site (wound)
• Unsightly scarring
• Blood clots
• Difficulty passing urine
Specific complications of ACL reconstruction surgery
• Break of the kneecap
• Damage to nerves around the knee
• Infection in the knee joint
• Discomfort in the front of the knee
• Loss of knee movement
• The knee keeps giving way
• Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the knee (complex regional pain syndrome)
The recovery process for the ACL is usually broken down into different phases of rehabilitation. Each phase has its own objectives, however, is intertwined with other phases since the goals are as progressive as the recovery itself. The rehabilitation process is at the pace of the patient and timelines are sometimes given to help give an idea of where one can be during rehabilitation. Timelines are not used to discourage or encourage those who aren’t ready to advance their recovery process. Such acts may cause serious injury or re-injury of the ACL.