Why are you being recommended for ACL reconstruction?
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) reconstruction is usually indicated for patients depending on a multitude of reasons. In the pediatric population, complete tear of the ACL results in significant instability of the knee. In kids specifically, the high degree of activity makes it difficult and unrealistic to limit their activities both in athletics and in normal function of life. In patients over the age of 40 and are physically active, there may be substantial benefit in reconstructing the ACL in order to return to activities such as skiing, skating, basketball, or any other activity with large amounts of side-to-side movement.
You will need to have complete (full) motion of your knee after the injury and before undergoing an ACL reconstruction surgical procedure. Improved motion prior to surgery substantially decreases the risk of post-operative scar tissue, which can lead to stiffness and worse long-term outcome. Dr. Chahla will most likely prescribe both home exercises and working with physical therapy prior to surgery to improve your range of motion.
During the surgical procedure, 2 small incisions are placed around the knee for placement of cameras and instrumentation. This is known as an arthroscopic procedure. The remaining torn ACL is cleaned out and a small tunnel is made in the femur (thigh bone) followed by placement of a small tunnel in the tibia (shin bone) which requires an additional incision that is 2-3 cm long. The new ACL graft is then placed at the correct angle and secured in place with screws at either end of the graft in the thigh and shin bones (See Picture). When an autograft is considered, a longer incision must be made in order to harvest the graft.