The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a strong ligament in your knee; with the posterior cruciate ligament they form an “X” configuration. The function of the ACL is to stop the tibia (shin bone) sliding too far forward in relation to the femur (thigh bone), this is particularly important with pivoting and twisting movements.
The ACL is one of the most commonly injured knee ligaments, and is a well known injury to sportsmen and fans alike. Many associate this injury with contact sports, but the majority of injuries come from non-contact mechanisms, such as landing from a jump onto an extended knee or twisting with a planted foot.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament reconstruction is considered if you are unable to carry out your activities or sports due to your knee giving way. The ligament does not heal so it is not possible to repair the ligament. This operation is carried out with arthroscopic assistance, we use your hamstrings from the inside aspect of your knee as a graft for which we make a small incision over the inner aspect of your shin. An inspection of your knee is then carried out with the arthroscope and if there are any problems in the knee, these will be dealt with at the same time. A tunnel is then drilled through the tibia (shin bone) and femur (thigh bone), the graft is passed through the tunnels and secured. The wounds are then closed and dressings placed.
Usually this procedure can be carried out as a daycase or overnight stay. If there has not been the need to do additional surgery in the knee, you can walk on your knee immediately. It is important to follow the post-operative physiotherapy and is more important to the success of your ACL reconstruction than the surgery itself. The amount of physiotherapy you will need will be adjusted to your progress and your own goals that you want to achieve in terms of types of sports. Overall it takes about nine to 12 months to get back to contact sports.
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