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ACL Surgery

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


Anterior Cruciate Ligament surgery, or ACL surgery, is a procedure used to fix or reconstruct a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. One of the major ligaments in the knee, the ACL, ensures stability and prevents excessive movement. An ACL torn due to injury or trauma may require surgery to restore knee stability and function.


There are several steps involved in preparing the patient for ACL surgery in order to optimize outcomes and ensure the patient is prepared. To assess the extent of the ACL injury and determine the best course of action, patients can undergo a thorough physical examination, including an MRI. Medications or supplements that can increase bleeding risk or interfere with anesthesia may be advised to stop taking. Preoperative instructions may also include fasting before surgery and arrangements for transportation to and from the hospital.


In order to access the torn ACL, the surgeon makes small incisions around the knee and places the patient under general anesthesia to ensure comfort and pain relief. In addition to repairing the torn ACL with sutures or other techniques, the surgeon may also reconstruct the injured knee with a graft or donated tissue, depending on the extent of the injury. Stabilizing the knee joint is accomplished by securing the graft in place with screws or other fixation devices, and the incisions are closed with sutures or staples.


As a result of ACL surgery, recovery varies depending on the extent of the injury, the type of surgery, and the fitness level of the individual. In the days immediately after surgery, patients may experience some pain, swelling, and stiffness in the knee. In order to restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion to the knee, physical therapy is a vital part of the recovery process. It typically begins shortly after surgery. In most cases, patients can return to normal activities within a few weeks to a few months after surgery, although full recovery may take several months.


Like any surgical procedure, ACL surgery is generally considered safe and effective for most patients, but it also carries some risks and potential complications. Bleeding, infection, blood clots, anesthesia complications, stiffness or weakness in the knee, failure of the graft to heal, and additional surgery may be necessary. Prior to undergoing ACL surgery, patients should discuss the potential risks and benefits with their surgeon.


To promote proper healing and minimize complications following ACL surgery, follow the surgeon's instructions. As part of this treatment, the knee may be supported by a brace or crutches, prescribed medications may be taken to manage pain and prevent infection, and physical therapy sessions may be scheduled to rehabilitate and restore function of the knee. As part of the recovery process, patients should follow a structured rehabilitation program and avoid activities that may cause the knee to be stressed or injured. Patients can ensure a successful recovery and return to normal activities by following these aftercare instructions and staying vigilant for any signs of complications.

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