Procedure for ACL Reconstruction


The ACL, or the anterior cruciate ligament, is the most important ligament in the knee. It stabilizes the knee and it allows you to do all the daily activities and sports that you want to do. When the ACL tears, it actually stretches right before it tears in half. So if you just try to repair an ACL in an adult, it’s going to more likely end up in an unstable knee, and then it won’t feel normal. The goal is for it to feel normal with treatment.

So the way we do that is we reconstruct the ACL by replacing it with a tendon, either from your body which is called an autograft or from somebody else, which is called an allograft. And you put that tendon now where the ligament belongs, drilling holes through the tibia and the femur which is the leg bone and the thigh bone, and the securing it in very different ways to actually now stabilize the knee.

The way I personally like to do this is through an arthroscopy and it is an outpatient procedure. So you are in and out the same day. It takes me less than an hour to do the procedure. And you basically get the surgery done under a femoral block. There may be some light general anesthesia if you want to sleep through it, but basically, you go home the same day, about an hour or two after the procedure. And then you rehab the leg, and then you’re able to return to normal function just a few months later.

There are different kinds of autografts and allografts. My personal way of doing it, when I do an allograft, I use an Achilles-tendon allograft. I think it’s the thickest, strongest graft that we can use. If I use an autograft, I use a bone patellar bone autograft. I fix the ends of those using screws that actually turn into bone. So if you actually look at your knee a couple of years later, you won’t see any metal screws. There’s no, you know, bone tunnels. All those things actually become part of you and that’s one of the reasons why I like to use those techniques to try to get people back. In our experience, you can get completely back to normal function in only a few months.