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The anterior cruciate ligament is a ligament found in the knee. As one of four ligaments in the knee joint, the ligament attaches the tibia, one of two bones in the shin, through the knee joint to the distal or lower head of the femur, or long bone of the thigh. Injury to this ligament is one of the most common to individuals involved in sports. The ligament is extremely important in knee joint stability and can be damaged through fast changes in direction as well as pivoting or twisting movements, as is common in many sports.
A torn or ruptured anterior cruciate ligament may be diagnosed through physical examination, x-rays and an MRI scan. In some cases, damage to the anterior cruciate ligament requires surgery. Repair of the anterior cruciate ligament maybe performed on an outpatient basis.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Repair Procedure
In most cases, repair of a torn anterior cruciate ligament is performed on an outpatient basis, enabling patients to engage in the surgery in the morning and be home or in a hotel room before nightfall. Surgical repair of the ACL is often performed with an arthroscope, a very thin, flexible fiberoptic scope about the diameter of a common drinking straw introduced in a very small (about 1/8 inch) incision in the knee joint.
A camera attached to one end of the arthroscope enables the surgeon to view the joint without the major tissue damage and longer healing processes involved in most traditional incision-type surgical procedures.
In a large number of ACL reconstruction surgeries, the surgeon harvests or collects a portion of the knee (patellar) tendon to use for repair or replacement of the torn or damaged anterior cruciate ligament. The graft is held in place with metallic screws or bioabsorbable screws.
Following the surgical procedure, the patient may place partial weight on the leg by using crutches for about a week to 10 days post-surgery. Patients are advised to engage in supervised physical therapy within 2 to 3 days after surgery in order to promote flexibility, range of motion, and healing processes.