including the reasons for the procedure and pre-operative preparations. Let’s discuss this in a structured manner.
Understanding ACL Reconstruction Surgery
ACL Reconstruction Surgery is a medical procedure aimed at restoring the function of the knee by replacing a torn ACL, which connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). This type of surgery is typically considered when other non-surgical methods fail to heal the damaged ligament.
Why Is ACL Reconstruction Surgery Necessary?
ACL injuries are common among athletes who engage in activities involving rapid movements, such as basketball, football, skiing, and dance. Women are more susceptible to these injuries due to factors like bone structure, muscle control, and the influence of estrogen on ligament healing.
This surgery is often recommended for individuals with a “terrible triad” of injuries involving damage to the medial meniscus of the knee, medial cruciate ligament, and anterior cruciate ligament. This combination is prevalent in football players.
Additionally, people who participate in high-impact sports that require cutting, turning, or pivoting movements and those with a torn ACL accompanied by functional instability may be candidates for ACL reconstruction. However, it is not recommended for young children as it may harm their growth plates.
Before undergoing ACL reconstruction surgery, you will need to undergo several tests and evaluations to ensure your health and readiness for the procedure. Here’s what you can expect:
- X-ray: This rules out any bone fractures, but it does not show ligaments and tendons.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan: Provides clear images of soft tissues in the knee, helping assess the extent of tissue damage.
- Ultrasonography: Uses sound waves to generate images of soft tissues and detect injuries.
- Arthrogram: Involves injecting dye into the knee joint to outline any injuries.
- Arthrocentesis: Also known as joint aspiration, it involves taking a sample of synovial fluid from the knee joint to look for signs of inflammation.
- Lachman’s test: A physical examination performed by a musculoskeletal specialist to assess ACL damage through specific movements.
Before surgery, you’ll also undergo routine tests, including:
- Blood workup: Checking blood count, blood pressure, and glucose levels to assess bleeding risk, infection, and diabetes.
- Urinalysis: Evaluating urine for blood, sugar, proteins, and cells.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): Assessing heart function through leads placed on your chest, recording readings on paper.
You’ll be asked about your medical history, including any previous illnesses, heart conditions, respiratory issues, liver problems, or genetic conditions. It’s crucial to provide comprehensive information to help your surgeon prepare for potential complications.
Inform your doctor about any medications you’re taking, especially pain relievers and blood thinners, as they can affect blood clotting.
If you smoke or consume alcohol, your surgeon may advise you to quit before the surgery. Smoking can hinder post-surgery healing.
Pregnancy and Contraceptives
If you’re pregnant or taking oral contraceptives, inform your surgeon immediately.
Day Before Surgery
- Keep the knee area clean, washing it multiple times daily to prevent infection. Shaving is not necessary.
- Abstain from eating or drinking for 8-12 hours before surgery, unless instructed otherwise.
- Carry your crutches if you have them.
- Wear comfortable clothing and bring an extra set.
In ACL reconstruction surgery, grafts from your body, such as the hamstring tendon or patellar tendon, are commonly used. Autografts (grafts from your body) have a lower risk of rejection compared to other grafts but may result in two incisions on your skin.
Ensure you follow these preparations and instructions to ensure a smooth surgical experience. Always consult with your medical team for specific guidance based on your condition.