Knee Reconstruction

Arthroscopic Reconstruction of the Knee for Ligament Injuries

The knee is the most complex joint in the body and is formed by the articulation between the thigh bone (femur) and the shinbone (tibia). A knee cap is present over the front of the joint to provide extra protection. These bones are held together by four strong rope like structures called ligaments. Two collateral ligaments are present on either side of the knee and control the sideway movements of the knee. The other two ligaments are the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, ACL and PCL respectively, which are present in the center of the knee joint and cross each other to form an “X”. The cruciate ligaments control the back and forth movement of the knee.

Knee ligament injuries are common in athletes involved in contact sports such as soccer, football and basketball. Knee ligament injuries are graded based on the severity of injury. In grade I the ligament is mildly damaged and slightly stretched, but the knee joint is stable. In grade II there is a partial tear of the ligament. In grade III there is a complete tear of the ligament and the ligament is divided into two halves making the knee joint unstable. The surgical repair of the completely torn ligament involves reconstruction of the torn ligament using a tissue graft taken from another part of the body, or from a donor. The damaged ligament is replaced by the graft and fixed to the femur and tibia using metallic screws. Gradually, over a period of a few months, the graft heals.

Arthroscopic reconstruction of the knee ligament is a minimally invasive surgery performed through a few tiny incisions. An arthroscope is inserted into the knee joint through one of the small incisions to provide clear images of the surgical area (inside the knee) to the surgeon on a television monitor. Guided by these images the surgeon performs the surgery using small surgical instruments inserted through the other small incisions around the knee. As the surgery is performed through small incisions it provides the following benefits:

  • Less post-operative pain
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Quicker recovery.

Following arthroscopic reconstruction of the injured ligament most athletes can return to their high-level sport after a period of rehabilitation.

PCL Reconstruction

Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), one of four major ligaments of the knee are situated at the back of the knee. It connects the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia). The PCL limits the backward motion of the shinbone.

PCL injuries are very rare and are difficult to detect than other knee ligament injuries. Cartilage injuries, bone bruises, and ligament injuries often occur in combination with PCL injuries. Injuries to the PCL can be graded as I, II or III depending on the severity of injury. In grade I the ligament is mildly damaged and slightly stretched, but the knee joint is stable. In grade II there is partial tear of the ligament.  In grade III there is complete tear of the ligament and the ligament is divided into two halves making the knee joint unstable.

The PCL is usually injured by a direct impact, such as in an automobile accident when the bent knee forcefully strikes the dashboard. In sports, it can occur when an athlete falls to the ground with a bent knee. Twisting injury or overextending the knee can cause the PCL to tear.

Patients with PCL injuries usually experience knee pain and swelling immediately after the injury. There may also be instability in the knee joint, knee stiffness that causes limping, and difficulty in walking.

Diagnosis of a PCL tear is made based on your symptoms, medical history, and by performing a physical examination of the knee.  Other diagnostic tests such as X-rays and MRI scan may be ordered. X-rays are useful to rule out avulsion fractures wherein the PCL tears off a piece of bone along with it. An MRI scan is done to help view the images of soft tissues better.

Treatment options may include non-surgical and surgical treatment. Non-surgical treatment consists of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE protocol); all assist in controlling pain and swelling. Physical therapy may be recommended to improve knee motion and strength. A knee brace may be needed to help immobilize your knee. Crutches may be recommended to protect your knee and avoid bearing weight on your leg.

Generally, surgery is considered in patients with dislocated knee and several torn ligaments including the PCL. Surgery involves reconstructing the torn ligament using a tissue graft which is taken from another part of your body, or a cadaver (another human donor). Surgery is usually carried out with an arthroscope using small incisions. The major advantages of this technique include minimal postoperative pain, short hospital stay, and a fast recovery. Following PCL reconstruction, a rehabilitation program will be started that helps you resume a wider range of activities. Usually, a complete recovery may take about 6 to 12 months.

LCL Reconstruction

Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is a thin set of tissues present on the outer side of the knee, connecting the thighbone (femur) to the fibula (side bone of lower leg). It provides stability as well as limits the sidewise rotation of the knee. Tear or injury of LCL may cause instability of the knee that can be either reconstructed or repaired to regain the strength and movement of the knee.

The knee is the largest joint of the body and is stabilized by a set of ligaments. In the knee, there are four primary ligaments viz. anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL).

Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) may tear due to trauma, sports injuries, or direct blow on the knee. Torn LCL may result in pain, swelling and even instability of the knee. LCL injuries and torn LCL can be diagnosed through physical examination and by employing imaging techniques such as X-rays or MRI scan.

The treatment of the torn LCL include non-surgical interventions such as rest, ice, elevation, bracing and physical therapy to help reduce swelling, and regain activity as well as strength and flexibility of the knee. Surgery is recommended if non-surgical interventions fail to provide much relief. Surgical interventions include repair and reconstruction of the torn ligament. Based on the severity and location of the injury, repair or reconstruction of the LCL is recommended. In case the ligament is torn from the upper or lower ends of attachment, then repair of the LCL is done with sutures or staples. If the ligament is torn in the middle or if the injury is older than 3 weeks, LCL reconstruction is recommended.

Procedure

LCL reconstruction involves replacement of the torn ligament with healthy strong tissue or graft. The tissue or graft can be taken either from the tissue bank (called allograft) or from the patient's body (called autograft). The type of graft used, depends upon the condition of the patient and choice of your surgeon. Hamstring tendons are commonly used as autograft, as removal of such tendons does not affect the strength of the legs and effectively stabilizes the knee. A small incision is made on the lateral side of the knee to perform the LCL reconstruction. The procedure is done through an open incision and not arthroscopically. The thighbone and fibula bones are drilled precisely and accurately with specialized instruments to form tunnels. The ends of the tendon graft are passed through tunnels and are fixed by using screws, metal staples or   large sutures. The knee undergone LCL reconstruction surgery is braced for 6-8 weeks.

Post-operative care

The common post-operative instructions for LCL reconstruction are:

  • Use crutches to avoid weight on the knee for at least 6 weeks
  • Use ice and the prescribed medications to reduce swelling
  • Avoid lifting heavy weight or vigorous exercise
  • Follow the specific instruction given by your surgeon
  • Follow rehabilitation programs or physical therapy to regain the motion and strength of the knee

Risks and complications

Some of the possible risks and complication associated with LCL reconstruction include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Knee weakness
  • Knee instability
  • Peroneal nerve injury

ACL Reconstruction

The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the major stabilizing ligaments in the knee. It is a strong rope like structure located in the center of the knee running from the femur to the tibia. When this ligament tears unfortunately, it does not heal and often leads to the feeling of instability in the knee.

ACL reconstruction is a commonly performed surgical procedure and with recent advances in arthroscopic surgery can now be performed with minimal incision and low complication rates.

ACL Reconstruction Hamstring Tendon

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction hamstring method is a surgical procedure that replaces the injured ACL with a hamstring tendon. Anterior cruciate ligament is one of the four major ligaments of the knee that connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) and helps stabilize your knee joint. Anterior cruciate ligament prevents excessive forward movement of the lower leg bone (the tibia) in relation to the thigh bone (the femur) as well as limits rotational movements of the knee.

A tear of this ligament can make you feel as though your knees will not allow you to move or even hold you up. Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is surgery to reconstruct the torn ligament of your knee with a tissue graft.

Causes

An ACL injury most commonly occurs during sports that involve twisting or overextending your knee.  An ACL can be injured in several ways:

  • Sudden directional change
  • Slowing down while running
  • Landing from a jump incorrectly
  • Direct blow to the side of your knee, such as during a football tackle

Symptoms

When you injure your ACL, you might hear a loud "pop" sound and you may feel the knee buckle.  Within a few hours after an ACL injury, your knee may swell due to bleeding from vessels within the torn ligament. You may notice that the knee feels unstable or seems to give way, especially when trying to change direction on the knee.

Diagnosis

An ACL injury can be diagnosed with a thorough physical examination of the knee and diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRI scans and arthroscopy. X-rays may be needed to rule out any fractures. In addition, your doctor will often perform the Lachman’s test to see if the ACL is intact. During a Lachman test, knees with a torn ACL may show increased forward movement of the tibia and a soft or mushy endpoint compared to a healthy knee.

Pivot shift test is another test to assess ACL tear. During this test, if the ACL is torn, the tibia will move forward when the knee is completely straight and as the knee bends past 30° the tibia shifts back into correct place in relation to the femur.

Procedure

The goal of ACL reconstruction surgery is to tighten your knee and to restore its stability.

Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction hamstring method is a surgical procedure to replace the torn ACL with part of the hamstring tendon taken from the patient’s leg. The Hamstring is the muscle located on the back of your thigh. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will make two small cuts about 1/4-inch-long around your knee. An arthroscope, a tube with a small video camera on the end is inserted through one incision to see the inside of the knee joint. Along with the arthroscope, a sterile solution is pumped into the joint to expand it enabling the surgeon to have a clear view and space to work inside the joint. The knee is bent at right angles and the hamstring tendons felt. A small incision is made over the hamstring tendon attachment to the tibia and the two tendons are stripped off the muscle and the graft is prepared. The torn ACL will be removed and the pathway for the new ACL is prepared. The arthroscope is reinserted into the knee joint through one of the small incisions. Small holes are drilled into the upper and lower leg bones where these bones come together at the knee joint. The holes’ form tunnels in your bone to accept the new graft. Then the graft is pulled through the predrilled holes in the tibia and femur. The new tendon is then fixed into the bone with screws to hold it into place while the ligament heals into the bone. The incisions are then closed with sutures and a dressing is placed.

Risks and complications

Possible risks and complications associated with ACL reconstruction with hamstring method include:

  • Numbness
  • Infection
  • Blood clots (Deep vein thrombosis)
  • Nerve and blood vessel damage
  • Failure of the graft
  • Loosening of the graft
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Crepitus (crackling or grating feeling of the kneecap)
  • Pain in the knee
  • Repeat injury to the graft

Post-operative care

Following the surgery, rehabilitation begins immediately. A physical therapist will teach you specific exercises to be performed to strengthen your leg and restore knee movement. Avoid competitive sports for 5 to 6 months to allow the new graft to incorporate into the knee joint.

Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is a very common and successful procedure. It is usually indicated in patients wishing to return to an active lifestyle especially those wishing to play sports involving running and twisting. Anterior cruciate ligament injury is a common knee ligament injury. If you have injured your ACL, surgery may be needed to regain full function of your knee.

ACL Reconstruction Patellar Tendon

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction patellar tendon is a surgical procedure that replaces the injured ACL with a patellar tendon. Anterior cruciate ligament is one of the four major ligaments of the knee that connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) and helps stabilize the knee joint. Anterior cruciate ligament prevents excessive forward movement of the lower leg bone (tibia) in relation to the thigh bone (femur) as well as limits rotational movements of the knee.

A tear of this ligament can make you feel as though your knees will not allow you to move or even hold you up. Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is surgery to reconstruct the torn ligament of your knee with a tissue graft.

Causes

An ACL injury most commonly occurs during sports that involve twisting or overextending your knee. The ACL can be injured in several ways:

  • Sudden directional change
  • Slowing down while running
  • Landing from a jump incorrectly
  • Direct blow to the side of your knee, such as during a football tackle

Symptoms

When you injure your ACL, you might hear a loud "pop" sound and you may feel the knee buckle.  Within a few hours after an ACL injury, your knee may swell due to bleeding from vessels within the torn ligament. You may notice that the knee feels unstable or seems to give way, especially when trying to change direction on the knee.

Diagnosis

An ACL injury can be diagnosed with a thorough physical examination of the knee and diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRI scans and arthroscopy. X-rays may be needed to rule out any fractures.

 In addition, your doctor will often perform the Lachman’s test to see if the ACL is intact. During a Lachman test, knees with a torn ACL may show increased forward movement of the tibia and a soft or mushy endpoint compared to a healthy knee.

Pivot shift test is another test to assess ACL tear. During the pivot shift test, if the ACL is torn the tibia will move forward when the knee is completely straight and as the knee bends past 30° the tibia shifts back into correct place in relation to the femur.

Procedure

The goal of ACL reconstruction surgery is to tighten your knee and to restore its stability.

Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction patellar tendon is a surgical procedure to replace the torn ACL with part of the patellar tendon taken from the patient’s leg. The new ACL is harvested from the patellar tendon that connects the bottom of the kneecap (patella) to the top of the shinbone (tibia). The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will make two small cuts about ¼ inch around your knee. An arthroscope, a tube with a small video camera on the end is inserted through one incision to see the inside of the knee joint. Along with the arthroscope, a sterile solution is pumped into the knee to expand it providing the surgeon a clear view of the inside of the joint. The torn ACL will be removed and the pathway for the new ACL is prepared. Your surgeon makes an incision over the patellar tendon and takes out the middle third of the patellar tendon, along with small plugs of bone where it is attached on each end. The remaining portions of the patellar tendon on either side of the graft are sutured back after its removal. Then the incision is closed. The arthroscope is reinserted into the knee joint through one of the small incisions. Small holes are drilled into the upper and lower leg bones where these bones come together at the knee joint. The holes’ form tunnels in your bone to accept the new graft. Then the graft is pulled through the predrilled holes in the tibia and femur. The new tendon is then fixed into the bone with screws to hold it into place while the ligament heals into the bone. The incisions are then closed with sutures and a dressing is placed.

Risks and complications

Possible risks and complications associated with ACL reconstruction with patellar tendon method include:

  • Numbness
  • Infection
  • Blood clots (Deep vein thrombosis)
  • Nerve and blood vessel damage
  • Failure of the graft
  • Loosening of the graft
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Crepitus (crackling or grating feeling of the kneecap)
  • Pain in the knee
  • Repeat injury to the graft

Post-operative care

Following the surgery rehabilitation begins immediately. A physical therapist will teach you specific exercises to strengthen your leg and restore knee movement. Avoid competitive sports for 5 to 6 months to allow the new graft to incorporate into the knee joint.

Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is a very common and successful procedure. It is usually indicated in patients who desire to return to an active lifestyle especially those wishing to play sports involving running and twisting. Anterior cruciate ligament injury is a common knee ligament injury. If you have injured your anterior cruciate ligament, surgery may be needed to regain full function of your knee.