Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery replaces the ACL, a small but important ligament in the center of the knee, with a new ligament often taken from a person’s own body (autograft) or from a donated source (allograft). The goal is to improve stability and decrease the chances of further injury to the joint.The procedure is a highly successful and with good rehabilitation, 90 to 95 percent of individuals who undergo this surgery can expect to return to full activities within six months.

Understanding the procedure

ACL reconstruction is typically an outpatient procedure using a minimally invasive or arthroscopic approach. During the procedure, the orthopedic surgeon makes small incisions or cuts in the knee to insert a tiny camera and other surgical instruments. Pictures obtained with the camera are then projected onto a monitor in the operating room. These images help guide the surgeon in repairing the damaged ACL. Next, the surgeon will remove the damaged ligament and drill tunnels in the thigh and shin bones. The new ACL is brought through these tunnels, and then secured to the bone using screws or other devices.

If a person’s own tendons do not provide the best replacement for the injured ligament, the doctor may recommend using a tendon from a donor, which have been carefully screened and tested for diseases.

Indications for the procedure

In general, ACL surgery is recommended for people who have knees that are unstable, tend to give away during activities, thus, making them incapable of playing certain sports.