Knee Ligament Reconstruction

This surgery aims to restore the stability to your knee by replacing a torn ligament. The ligament most commonly injured is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) which crosses the inside of your knee joint, connecting your thigh bone to your shin bone.

Do you need surgery?

Knee Ligament Reconstruction may be recommended if you have instability associated with ligament damage. Your surgeon may suggest Physiotherapy first, as some people can function well without a cruciate ligament and avoid surgery. However, if your knee gives way and limits return to competitive sport or a physically demanding job, then surgery is likely. Your surgeon can help you decide when and whether surgery is a good option.

What happens during surgery?

Small surgical incisions are made around your knee to allow insertion of an arthroscope. The torn ligament is re-moved and tunnels are drilled in the bottom of your thighbone and top of your shinbone. The new ligament is called a graft. The graft is taken from either the hamstring tendon or the middle part of your Patella tendon. The graft is passed through the tunnels and is held with a screw or staple until it heals into the bone. Your skin is usually closed with sutures.

What could go wrong?

There is a low possibility of infection, blood clots, swelling, bruising and joint stiffness, along with anaesthetic risks. Medications, activity restriction and progressive exercises are prescribed to minimise these risks. Graft failure can occur, usually as a consequence of a traumatic injury, with reportedly 10% of ACL reconstructions needing revision surgery. It is important to discuss risks and voice any concerns you may have with your surgeon before having surgery.

Participating in your rehabilitation

Participating in a structured exercise program after surgery supervised by a Physiotherapist will assist you in achiev-ing the best possible result. Aims include reducing swelling, regaining your range of motion, walking with crutches, and to understand how to protect your graft while it in-grows to your bone. Your hospital stay is usually overnight. To protect the new ligament, you will be restricted to light activities, such as walking, cycling and swimming in the first 3 months. A brace is not required after surgery.

Benefits you can expect

You can take weight through your leg immediately after this surgery, however you are likely to require support of crutches for 2-4 weeks. After regaining full movement in your knee and fast balance reaction times, your local Physiotherapist will gradually introduce sport-specific training drills. Most patients achieve a stable knee with 85-90% happy with the surgery, and around 60-70% return to sport 10-12 months after surgery.