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Knee Ligament Surgery16th August 2018
There are four ligaments in the knee:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
There are four ligaments in the knee
Surgery can be carried out any of the four ligaments, with each procedure slightly different.
ACL and PCL surgery
Before operating on the knee, swelling must have gone down and movement must have returned to the joint as it’s not easy stitching the ACL and PCL back together. This can usually take three weeks; however, with the help of a physiotherapist, this time can be shortened.
The most common procedure for repairing an ACL or PCL injury is to remove the damaged ligament and replace it with a tendon from elsewhere in your leg. The tissue used to graft the ligament in place can be taken directly from a patient (autograft) or from a donor (allograft). This procedure is usually carried out under general or spinal anaesthesia.
During the operation, the extent of the damage is assessed using an arthroscope and the graft tissues are removed. Then, using the arthroscopy method, the replacement tissue is inserted and secured to the bone using stitches, screws or staples.
LCL and MCL surgery
There are two ways to operate on LCL and MCL, depending on where it was damaged. With these ligaments not being inside the knee joint, arthroscopy will not need to be carried out. Instead, if the tear is on the shin or thigh bone, the ligament is reattached using stitches, screws or staples. If there is a tear in the middle, the two parts will be stitched back together.
In most cases, patients can have their knee movement fully restored after ACL surgery, but if there is swelling or pain, it can take around six months to make a full recovery and up to a year before they are able to return to any sports. For PCL procedures, recovery can take between nine to twelve months, while MCL takes approximately six to nine months.