ACL Reconstruction

About 200,000 ACL injuries occur every year, often from intense sports like football, skiing, basketball, and soccer. Roughly half of those injuries only require physical therapy and rehabilitation to restore use. But when the injury is more serious or affects surrounding tissue, the patient may need surgery to repair and restabilized the ACL and surrounding areas.

In general, ACL repair uses a tendon from either the patient or a cadaver to rebuild the ACL mechanism. Sources include: a patellar tendon autograft (taken from another area on the patient), hamstring tendon autograft, quadriceps tendon autograft, or allograft (taken from a cadaver) patellar tendon, Achilles tendon, semitendinosus, gracilis, or posterior tibialis tendon.

Who is eligible?

Palm Beach Health Network Physician Groups considers a patient’s overall health before recommending any surgery. ACL surgery is usually a good option for those with demanding jobs or hobbies that require pivoting, turning, or heavy manual labor. Patients who have combined injuries (like the ACL, other tendons and the meniscus) usually have better outcomes with reconstructive surgery than just therapy and rehabilitation.

Children with ACL injuries are usually not good candidates for the surgery because the growth plates in their bones could be affected. In some cases a modified procedure could be performed on a child.

What are the risks?

In addition to the regular risks of any surgery, there are some additional risks to ACL reconstruction. They include: infection at the surgery site, infection or viral transmission from allograft (cadaver) tendons, bleeding, numbness, blood clot, instability, knee stiffness, extensive mechanism failure, growth plate injury (in children), and kneecap pain. These risks are rare. Your Palm Beach Health Network Physician Groups doctor will go over these risks with you if you choose surgical reconstruction.

What is recovery like?

Early recovery includes wound care and icing to reduce swelling. Braces and crutches are used according to the doctor’s discretion.

Long-term recovery is often dependent on the patient’s commitment to physical therapy and rehabilitation. These exercises begin soon after surgery. Goals for physical therapy and rehabilitation include increased mobility and strengthened muscles and tendons. Sports can be resumed when pain and swelling are gone.

How expensive is it?

ACL reconstruction surgery is usually covered by insurance, Medicaid and Medicare. If you and your Palm Beach Health Network Physician Groups doctor believe surgery is a good choice for you, the Tenet team will give you an estimate of what your out of pocket expenses may be.

How do I learn more?

Usually, ACL reconstruction patients are referred by a general or family physician. To make an appointment to speak with a Tenet doctor about ACL repair, call 1.866.654.2362.


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