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ACL Reconstruction

ACL Reconstruction: Overview, Preparation, Procedure, Recovery, Risks, and Aftercare


Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction is a surgical procedure used to repair a torn ACL in the knee. Among the major ligaments that stabilize the knee, the ACL is highly prone to injury, particularly in sports that require sudden stops, pivots, or changes in direction.


In preparation for ACL reconstruction, the following steps are usually taken:

  • An orthopedic surgeon will evaluate your knee thoroughly, including a physical examination and imaging tests such as an MRI, to determine the extent of the ACL injury.

  • To make an informed decision about ACL reconstruction surgery, you will discuss the potential risks and benefits with your surgeon.

  • Before surgery, your surgeon may provide specific instructions, such as fasting for a certain period or discontinuing certain medications.


Surgery to reconstruct the ACL is typically done through small incisions and a camera-guided instrument known as an arthroscope. During the procedure, the torn ACL is replaced with a graft, which may come from a patient's own tissue (autograft) or from a donor (allograft).

  • The procedure will be performed under general anesthesia so that you remain unconscious and pain-free.

  • The surgeon will make several small incisions around the knee and insert the arthroscope and other surgical instruments. The torn ACL is removed, and the graft tissue is inserted into the knee joint and fixed in place with screws or other devices.

  • Surgical staples or sutures are used to close the incisions once the graft has been secured.


Recovering from ACL reconstruction surgery typically involves:

  • ACL reconstruction is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, and most patients can return home the same day.

  • An important part of ACL reconstruction recovery is physical therapy. Your surgeon will prescribe a rehabilitation program to help you regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion in your knee.

  • To allow the graft tissue to heal properly, you will need to gradually increase your activity level and avoid high-impact activities for several months after surgery.


Reconstruction of the ACL is generally safe and effective, but it does carry certain risks and potential complications, such as:

  • Following surgery, infection may occur at the incision sites or within the knee joint.

  • The graft tissue may fail to integrate properly with the surrounding tissue or may tear again, requiring revision surgery.

  • In some cases, stiffness or reduced range of motion in the knee joint can result after surgery, particularly if rehabilitation protocols are not followed correctly.


Following ACL reconstruction surgery, it is important to follow any postoperative instructions provided by your surgeon, which may include:

  • During the recovery period, you may need to take medications to manage pain or prevent infection.

  • Attend all scheduled physical therapy sessions and follow the prescribed rehabilitation program diligently to optimize recovery.

  • Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your surgeon to monitor your progress and address any concerns or complications.

After ACL reconstruction surgery, many individuals are able to return to their previous level of activity and experience improved knee function by following these aftercare instructions and committing to the rehabilitation process.

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