ACL Repair Surgery

By Dr. David Dodgin on March 02, 2018

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is one of the major ligaments responsible for stabilizing the knee joint. Unfortunately, ACL injuries are fairly common, especially for athletes who play sports that involve sudden stops and changes in direction, such as basketball, soccer, and tennis. When the ACL becomes damaged or torn, individuals may suffer from pain, inflammation, limited range of motion, or an inability of the knee to bear weight. At the Orthopedic Specialists of Austin, our experienced doctors offer knee reconstruction to address damage to the knee joint and the surrounding ligaments, that can restore comfort and function for the patient. In the case of a torn ACL, repair surgery may be appropriate. This surgery can allow our Austin, TX, patients to resume an active lifestyle with a knee that functions effectively.

Digital image of a damaged ACL

The Procedure

When performing knee reconstruction, our surgeons utilize the least invasive methods possible. This is no different when a patient is undergoing ACL repair surgery. We employ arthroscopic surgery techniques, which require small incisions that will not leave behind large, unsightly surgical scars. Prior to starting an ACL repair surgery, we will provide the patient with anesthesia to ensure they remain comfortable throughout their procedure. Once the anesthesia has taken effect, the surgical incisions will be made. Although the surgical incisions for an ACL repair are small, the precision of the procedure will not be compromised. Our doctor will use an arthroscope, which is a tiny surgical camera, to ensure a detailed view of the entire knee. Using this camera as a guide, small surgical instruments will be used to make the necessary repairs.

An ACL repair can be performed using either the patient’s own tissue or that of a donor. However, first, the old, damaged portion of the ACL will need to be removed. After removing the damaged ligament, the doctor will create small holes (like a tunnel) in the surrounding bone. The new tissues will be threaded through these holes. To ensure that the new tissues remain in place while the bone heals, we will secure each end with a small surgical screw. In the weeks following ACL repair surgery, the bone will heal and grow over these screws to further support the new ACL tissue.

Aftercare

Aftercare is essential to a successful recovery from ACL repair surgery. Although a patient can expect to be in a brace or on crutches for up to two weeks after an ACL repair, physical therapy is likely to start right away. Our doctors work with patients to create a physical therapy plan that is appropriate for each stage of their recovery. Initially, exercises may be in the form of simple stretches, but as the patient recovers, we will increase their activity level to ensure the knee is healing properly. While each patient’s recovery may differ slightly, most patients are able to resume driving within two weeks of ACL repair surgery. However, more strenuous activities, such as jogging will probably need to be avoided for about six months. By following all aftercare instructions precisely, patients can ensure a smooth recovery from ACL repair surgery.

Learn More

If you are experiencing knee pain and believe that you may be suffering from a torn ACL, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Contact us at your earliest convenience to discuss your injury and learn more about knee reconstruction and ACL repair surgery. The experienced doctors at Orthopedic Specialists of Austin look forward to hearing from you.

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