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What to Expect During ACL Reconstructive Surgery

ACL surgery replaces the damaged ligament with a new ligament called a graft. In most cases, the graft is a tendon take from the patient’s own knee or hamstring. In some cases, the graft comes from a donor.

doctor examining knee

Arthroscopic Surgery

With arthroscopic surgery, Dr. Madsen uses a lighted tube with a tiny camera called an arthroscope or scope. He then puts it and other surgical tools through small cuts (incisions) into the knee. If necessary, he will make a larger cut to take the graft from the knee or hamstring. The ACL is then replaced with the graft. These cuts, called incisions, leave scars that usually fade with time.

Most people go home on the same day of the surgery, and sometimes the next day. The knee will slowly get stronger through recovery.

Recovering from an ACL Surgery

Following surgery, most people go back to normal activity within a few weeks, but it is months before full complete use of the knee is regained. It may take as long as 6 months before the knee is ready for hard physical work or certain sports.

Patients require physical rehabilitation (rehab) following an ACL surgery which will build strength and improve motion of the joint. At first, help is provided by either Dr. Madsen or a physical therapist. Once progress is made, patients are given exercises to do on their own. Rehab lasts for several months. Following surgery and rehab, the knee will have less pain and should be more stable. The joint should not give out or buckle.

Follow Up Care

How soon a patient can return to sports or exercise depends on how well they follow their rehab program and how quickly the knee heals. If a partial meniscectomy was performed, sports can be played in about 1-2 months. If a meniscus repair was performed, it may be 3-6 months.

It is vital that patients make and go to all appointments and keep in contact with Dr. Madsen, especially if problems arise. It is also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines prescribed.

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