ACL repair is performed to treat a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), most commonly caused by sport-related injuries that involve sudden stops and direction changes, such as football, soccer, volleyball and basketball. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue responsible for attaching one bone to another. The ACL is situated inside the knee and is susceptible to damage through stretching or tearing.
ACL injuries are common among individuals who play sports, due to movements that apply stress and strain on the knee. This includes movements such as:
- Planting the foot and pivoting
- Landing wrong after jumping
- Stopping suddenly
- Changing direction too quickly
When the ACL is healthy, it helps hold the bones together and keeps the knee stable. However, if it is damaged, patients may have trouble putting pressure on the knee, walking or playing sports.
When is ACL repair surgery indicated?
ACL repair surgery is the most appropriate long-term treatment for some ACL tears that are not expected to heal on their own. The main goal of ACL repair surgery is to help restore stability to the injured knee. ACL repair is normally indicated if:
- You are an athlete and want to continue participating in sport, especially if it involves cutting, jumping or pivoting.
- You have a torn meniscus that requires repair.
- An injury that causes your knee to buckle during everyday activity.
- More than one ligament is injured.
- You are young.
What does ACL repair entail?
During the procedure, Dr Nell will make small incisions above the torn ACL. He will then remove the torn or damaged ACL and insert a tendon in its place. Tendons help connect a muscle to the bone. The main goal is to restore stability and give the knee its full range of motion back. When the tendon is inserted in the knee, it is known as a graft. There are three types of grafts that may be used during ACL repair surgery, namely:
- Allograft – This is a type of graft that involves the use of tissue from someone else.
- Autograft – This type of graft involves the orthopaedic surgeon using a tendon from some part of your body, such as from the other knee, hamstring, or thigh.
- Synthetic graft – This is a type of graft that involves the use of artificial materials to replace a tendon. These materials may include carbon fibre and Teflon.
Dr Nell will then drill sockets or tunnels into the thighbone and shinbone to help position the graft accurately. The graft will then serve as a scaffolding where new ligament tissue will grow.
Dr. Dirk Nell
Dr. Dirk Nell's Note
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