ACL or Anterior Cruciate Ligament is an essential part of the knee joint. This ligament helps in stabilizing the knee joint from the anterior part and connects the thigh bone (Femur) to the shin bone (Tibia). Under various circumstances such as while playing sports (most common), the ACL is likely to get torn.
What is an ACL Injury?
The ACL injury is a tear or overstretching of the essential knee joint ligament- ACL. Furthermore, it is evident that in more than 50% of the cases, during an ACL Injury, other structures of the knee joint such as articular cartilage, meniscus, or other ligaments are involved as well. These structures get damaged too with the anterior cruciate ligament.
Grades of ACL Injury
A ligament injury is called a sprain. Depending upon the severity of the injury, an ACL Injury is divided into the following types-
- Grade 1- In this grade of injury, the ligament is mildly damaged. The ACL is only stretched slightly but is perfectly able to keep up the knee joint.
- Grade 2- This is also considered a partial tear. In this, the ACL stretches to a point where it becomes loose.
- Grade 3- Now this is the third and the final grade where a complete tear of the ACL takes place. The ligament is torn into two pieces and your knee joint has become very unstable. This is the grade that requires surgical intervention. ACL reconstruction is the name of the surgery that is done to correct the ACL tear.
Following are the few common reasons why one observes an ACL Injury-
- When a person changes direction rapidly he or she is liable to get an ACL injury.
- When a person stops suddenly while running or jumping or doing some vigorous workout.
- Head-on collision with the ball while playing any sport.
ACL Reconstruction Surgery
During an ACL reconstruction surgery, the following methods are involved-
- ACL reconstructive surgery uses a graft to replace a ligament. The most common grafts are autografts that use a part of your body, such as the hamstring (patellar tendon) or one of your hip tendons. The quadriceps tendon above the knee is sometimes used. Another option is a tissue allograft from a deceased donor.
- Reconstructive surgery is usually only used for dislocated fractures (separation of ligaments and bone fragments from the rest of the bone). In this case, the bone fragments attached to the ACL are reattached to the bone.
- ACL surgery is usually performed by inserting surgical instruments through small cuts and incisions in the knee which is the latest technique and is called Arthroscopic surgery.
Steps Involved in ACL Reconstruction Surgery
Below are the steps involved in an ACL Reconstruction surgery-
- Graft Harvesting
- ACL Reconstruction
Recovery Time After an ACL Reconstruction Surgery
Though the person is discharged the same day of the surgery, recovering from an ACL reconstructive surgery may take up to as long as six months. This involves a full rehabilitation program post-surgery consisting of care and physical therapy.
Going with an Arthroscopic procedure has many advantages over the conventional open form of reconstruction surgery-
- It is less time-consuming.
- It involves using very small incisions so the development of scars is very less.
- This type of treatment is also undertaken for diagnostic purposes.
- It has lesser risks than conventional methods.