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ACL Reconstruction

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Consultants who perform this procedure

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Why would I need ACL reconstruction?

A torn ACL is often a sports injury. It can also occur if your leg extends too far forward or if you twist your knee and lower leg in a certain way.

What symptoms does ACL reconstruction address?

Undergoing ACL reconstruction helps you restore stability to the knee and should eventually allow a return to sports.

When should you speak to your specialist about ACL reconstruction?

If you feel that your knee is unstable and it is inhibiting your quality of life and ability to perform daily activities or sports, it could be time to consider talking to your specialist about undergoing ACL reconstruction.

How is ACL reconstruction performed?

ACL reconstruction takes approximately an hour and you may be under general anaesthetic or have an epidural. Your surgeon will examine the inside of your knee and determine the extent of the damage. They will then use tissue from another part of your body to graft the torn ACL. To take the graft, a small incision is made in the front of the knee (depending on which graft is used). The graft is then passed through the knee joint, via tunnels drilled in the tibia and femur, and then secured to these bones. During surgery two more small keyhole incisions will be made, to allow accurate positioning of the graft. The incisions will be closed with dissolving stitches and steristrips.

What is the recovery for ACL reconstruction?

Your recovery from ACL reconstruction can depend on multiple factors, including your age, fitness level, and the nature of your procedure. Most patients are on crutches for up to two weeks and can return to a sedentary job after two weeks. Light exercise can be started at two weeks under the guidance of your physiotherapist. Many months of physiotherapy are required for full sporting activity, with most patients not returning to contact sports for 9-12 months


You will be able to put as much weight on your knee as is comfortable, unless you are told not to do so by your surgeon.

Pain control

It is imperative to control post-operative pain. Pain can inhibit movement, thereby hampering rehabilitation and recovery. You will be given pain killers to take home on discharge.


Is it normal to have swelling around your knee following surgery. You can help reduce swelling by high elevation. You can use ice to reduce the swelling. This can be applied as needed, for 10-15 minutes at a time.

Full recovery from ACL reconstruction can take up to a year and often requires physiotherapy and exercises.

You and your surgeon will decide upon your best recovery options after your surgery.

Are there any risks/complications associated with ACL reconstruction?

As with any medical procedure, it is possible for risks or complications to arise. It is best that you speak with your specialist or surgeon about how best to avoid any adverse reactions.

Some of the most common risks and complications that have been associated with the procedure are:

  • An infection in the surgical wound
  • Knee stiffness
  • Knee pain
  • Temporary or permanent numbness around the surgical area
  • Blood clots
  • Re-tearing of the ACL requiring further surgery

How can I prepare for ACL reconstruction?

Prior to ACL reconstruction you should discuss the preparations you should make with your surgeon, as there are several that could be suggested and they vary depending on the person.

Common preparations for ACL reconstruction include:

  • Allowing any swelling of the knee to go down
  • Strengthening your quadriceps and hamstrings
  • A physical examination and possible X-rays

Are there alternatives for ACL reconstruction?

Not everyone who tears their ACL requires an ACL reconstruction. Some people are able to maintain their mobility by using a knee brace or undergoing physiotherapy. You should talk to your specialist to see if there are alternatives to ACL reconstruction that might work for you.

Call 020 7467 4344 or fill in your details below to make an enquiry
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