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Repair of Torn Ligaments

Anterior view of knee joint There are 4 major ligaments in the knee. The ligaments in the knee connect the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shin bone), and include the following:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ligament, located in the center of the knee towards the front, that controls rotation and forward movement of the tibia (shin bone). It is the most common ligament to be injured. The ACL is often stretched and/or torn during a sudden twisting motion (when the feet stay planted one way, but the knees turn the other way). Skiing, basketball, and football are sports that have a higher risk of ACL injuries.
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). The ligament, located in the center of the knee, toward the back, and that controls backward movement of the tibia (shin bone). It is also a common knee ligament to be injured. However, the PCL injury usually occurs with sudden, direct impact, such as in a car accident or during a football tackle.
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL).  The ligament that gives stability to the inner knee is located on the inner side of the knee. It is injured more often than the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), 
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The ligament that gives stability to the outer knee,which is on the outer side of the knee. Stretch and tear injuries to the collateral ligaments are usually caused by a blow to the outer side of the knee, such as when playing hockey or football.

Why do I need torn ligament repair surgery? 

Knee ligament repair is a treatment for a complete tear of a knee ligament that results in instability in the knee. Persons with a torn knee ligament may be unable to do normal activities that involve twisting or turning at the knee. The knee may buckle or “give-way.” If medical treatments are not satisfactory, ligament repair surgery may be an effective treatment.

The surgery to correct a torn knee ligament involves replacing the ligament with a piece of healthy tendon. A tendon from the kneecap or hamstring, for example, is grafted into place to hold the knee joint together. The tendon graft may come from the person (autograft) or from an organ donor (allograft).

What should I expect before my torn ligament repair surgery? 

Dr. Moheimani will perform a full history and physical exam to ensure you are in good physical health before undergoing the surgery.

Knee ligament repair may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor’s practices.

Knee ligament repair may be performed while you are asleep under general anesthesia, or while you are awake under spinal anesthesia. If spinal anesthesia is used, you will have no feeling from your waist down. Your doctor will discuss this with you in advance.

Anterior view of knee

  1. The doctor will make several small incisions in the knee area.
  2. The doctor will perform the surgery using an arthroscope (a small tube-shaped instrument that is inserted into a joint). The doctor may reattach the torn ligament or reconstruct the torn ligament by using a portion (graft) of the patellar tendon (that connects the kneecap to the tibia), the hamstring tendon (from the back of the thigh), or other autografts. The tendon graft may come from the person (autograft) or from an organ donor (allograft).
  3. The doctor will drill small holes in the tibia and femur where the torn ligament was attached.
  4. The doctor will thread the graft through the holes and attach it with surgical staples or screws. Bone eventually grows around the graft.
  5. The incision will be closed with stitches or surgical staples.
  6. A sterile bandage or dressing will be applied.

What happens after a knee ligament repair?

After the surgery you will be taken to the recovery room for observation. Your recovery process will vary depending on the type of anesthesia that is given. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you will be taken to your hospital room or discharged to your home. Knee ligament repair is usually done on an outpatient basis.

You may be given crutches and a knee immobilizer before you go home.

Once you are home, it is important to keep the surgical area clean and dry. Your healthcare provider will give you specific bathing instructions. The stitches or surgical staples will be removed during a follow-up office visit.

Take a pain reliever for soreness as recommended by your healthcare provider. Aspirin or certain other pain medications may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medications.

To help reduce swelling, you may be asked to elevate your leg and apply an ice bag to the knee several times per day for the first few days. Your healthcare provider will arrange for an exercise program to help you regain muscle strength, stability, and range of motion.Follow us on social media: