Carie shares her success story of traveling to the United States for her ACL Surgery. Dr. Jeffrey Lyman, M.D. performed her ACL Reconstruction Surgery in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
The Anterior cruciate is a ligament that runs inside the knee from the thigh bone to the shin bone giving stability to the knee joint. Loss or damage of the ligament can make the knee more prone to ‘giving way’. Your ACL has torn (ruptured).
You may have come to a joint decision with your surgeon to attempt a reconstruction. Unfortunately, once this ligament has torn, it cannot usually be repaired. As a result, a new ligament must be made from elsewhere (a graft).
You will be seen by the surgeon on the day of the operation. The surgeon will take the opportunity to mark your leg with a felt pen. This is to ensure the correct leg will be operated on. If you have any questions, now is a good time to ask them.
An anaesthetic will be administered in theatre. This may be a general anaesthetic (where you will be asleep) or a local block (e.g. where you are awake but the area to be operated is completely numbed). You must discuss this and the risks with the anaesthetist.
A tight inflatable band (tourniquet) may be wrapped around your thigh to limit the amount of bleeding. During the operation, the surgeon will perform a telescope examination of your knee (an arthroscopy).
Small cuts are made through skin which has been cleaned by antiseptic solution. The cuts are usually no bigger than 1cm and made either side of the knee cap. A telescope with a camera at the end (less than the width of a pencil) can look into the knee and shows a picture on a nearby television screen.
The surgeon will introduce other instruments through the second cut. Any “tidying up” of any other structures can be done at this point (such as smoothening cartilage).
A graft also needs to be taken. There are a few methods and types of graft available.
Whichever your surgeon chooses depends on their preference or suitability for your case. The two common techniques used are either taking a tendon from the hamstring muscles or using part of the ligament that runs from the kneecap to the shin bone (patellar-tendon graft). Both involve making cuts in the skin in front of the knee.
Tunnels are drilled which allow the graft to pass through the knee joint. This graft is then held into position at both ends by screws, pins or slings. It is important to get the right tension on the ligament as it is fixed.
The open skin is then closed with stitches or metallic clips. You will wake up in the recovery room with a bandage around the knee.
You may feel sore. This is normal. However, if the pain is intolerable, it is very important you tell the nursing staff.
When you are feeling well enough, and you have been shown how to walk with crutches, you will be allowed to go home.
You should partial weight bear until told to walk normally by your surgeon. You will more than likely be introduced to a rehabilitation (physio) program. It is very important you attend this strictly.
***please be aware that a surgeon other than your consultant but with adequate training or supervision may perform the operation***