Background: ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament. It is one of the main stabilizers of the knee. Injury to this ligament will cause the knee to feel unstable and may contribute to degeneration of the knee if not repaired. Reconstruction is recommended for athletic patients who wish to continue to participate in jumping, cutting and twisting type sports.
Surgery: Reconstruction of the ACL is an Arthroscopic surgery. Surgery time is approximately 2 hours. If additional cartilage surgery is necessary, the time could be 3 hours.
The surgery will involve making a small incision to remove a piece of your patella tendon and then inserting it into the knee arthroscopically using Titanium screws to replace the torn ACL. (These will not set off the airport alarm).
Post-Op: You will wake up with a brace keeping your knee locked straight out. An ice pad will be underneath the brace which attaches to a motorized ice bucket that can be refilled at home and will provide continuous icing to your knee. You will be discharged from the hospital on the same day as the surgery.
Begin to put as much weight as you can tolerate on the limb using the crutches for support. You will need to use the crutches for approximately 2 weeks, and the brace for approximately 4 weeks.
Take the pain medication as needed. Unfortunately some people get nauseous from this medication, so use only as needed. If you are having too much nausea to tolerate the medicine try taking extra strength Tylenol (over the counter). If this is not sufficient, call the office.
You will need to see the doctor approximately 5-7 days after the surgery. At that time an x-ray will be obtained, dressings will be changed, and exercises initiated. You will be given a physical therapy prescription, and should call right away to make an appointment for therapy.
The most important part of the therapy is to regain your range of motion in the first few weeks post surgery. This will require some hard work!
Strengthening is a much longer process and will take 4-6 months of therapy and most importantly working on your own at home.
You may not shower or get the wounds wet for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks you may shower, but you cannot soak the leg or use a hot tub or pool for 4 weeks.
If you have a significant fever (> 100.4) call the office.
Sometimes the pain will increase the day after surgery. This is because the numbing medicine is wearing off and is normal. If the pain continues to increase significantly the second and third days call the office immediately.