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ACL Repair

What is ACL Repair?

This is surgery to repair a tear in your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in your knee. It involves using a skin graft from either your hamstring or your patella tendon or obtaining a graft from a cadaver.

Why is it Done?

Not everyone who has an ACL injury requires surgery, but it might be considered under these circumstances:

  • Your injury is making your knee unstable
  • Your knee pain will not go away
  • Other parts of your knee are also injured
  • You are an athlete and want to continue competing

How to Prepare

A few days before your surgery, you'll meet with your surgeon. Make sure you bring a list of any questions that you have, and provide your doctor with a list of all the medications you are taking. You may need to temporarily stop taking some medications. You will be given pre-operative instructions, which will include not eating several hours before surgery. Make plans to have someone bring you to the procedure and drive you home.

What to Expect

Usually, ACL repair is done under general anesthesia but on an outpatient basis. Using arthroscopy, your surgeon will operate on your knee. He or she will make small incisions and will then insert a long tube (arthroscope) attached to a video camera.

Using the video images as guidance, your surgeon will remove the damaged ligament, take a skin graft (unless using a cadaver), anchor the graft and replace the damaged ligament with it, and close your wound.

After the procedure, you will need some time for the anesthesia to wear off, but then you will go home the same day. You will need a knee brace for a week or two, and you will need to use crutches for several weeks. Your surgeon will prescribe pain medication for you, and you may need physical therapy during your recovery.


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