What is ACL surgery?
ACL surgery involves the replacement of the torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament, which is a major ligament of the knee. ACL surgery is most commonly needed in sportspersons. The torn ligament is removed through small incisions around the knee joint and replaced with a piece of tendon from another part of your knee or from a deceased donor.
When is it needed?
The ACL reconstruction is usually needed in the following cases:
- You're a sportsperson and want to continue playing your sport, especially jumping, cutting or pivoting.
- More than one ligament or the meniscus in your knee is injured
- The injury is causing your knee to buckle during everyday activities.
ACL ligament is one of the major ligaments of the knee that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone, hence stabilizing the knee joint. The ligament gets injured whenever there is a direct blow to the knee or there is sudden stopping or change in direction.
The person may have pain, swelling or a feeling of instability of the knee in most of the cases. After a few hours of the injury, there is a usually a tendency to develop swelling, loss of motion in the joint, and tenderness or discomfort while walking.
How is it performed?
Before the procedure
Before the procedure, the patient is instructed about when to stop eating, drinking or take any medication if needed.
He/ she may also be told to stop taking certain medication a week or so before the surgery such as aspirin to reduce the risk of excessive bleeding.
Depending upon the suitability the graft is prepared by taking the tissue either from some other part of the body (autograft) or from some other deceased donor (allograft).
During the surgery
The patient is administered general anesthesia to ensure comfort and ease during the surgery.
This is followed by making a small incision around the joint in order to old a thin tube-like camera and other instruments to carry out the surgery.
The surgeon inserts the arthroscopic instruments inside the joint and takes out the damaged or torn ligament.
After the surgery
The incision is closed after the replacement of the graft by using sutures (either soluble or non-soluble).
This surgery is a day-care procedure. Most of the time, the patients can go home the same day. Before getting discharged from the hospital, the patients are made to practice walking with the help of crutches.
Some of the topmost orthopedic surgeons in India also provide detailed counseling related to post-operative care at home for a smooth recovery.
The recovery period after the Surgery
Pain management- The patient does feel pain after the surgery, which is a part of the healing process. However, doctors prescribe pain-relieving medication for such short-term pain. These medications include opioids, local anesthetic gel or ointment, and NSAIDs. The patients are recommended to discontinue the use of these medications when the pain is stopped.
The first 10-15 days should be spent on taking care of the wound of the incision. Icing packs are used to reduce the swelling and keep the legs elevated.
The patient should try to straighten the leg and gain control over the thigh muscles known as Quadriceps. Sometimes the doctors recommend the use of knee braces and other machines to enhance the motion of the knee within its range.
The next stage of the recovery involves gaining full range of motion of the knee and strengthening the leg muscles that include quadriceps and hamstrings.
The patient should continue approximately 4-6 months of physical therapy before returning back to playing sports.
Cost of ACL reconstruction surgery
Some of the best orthopedic hospitals in India perform the surgery at a very nominal cost. The hospitals are a harnessed with the latest devices and have highly experienced surgeons to perform the surgery with minimal access.