The surgeon inserts an arthroscope into one of the other incisions. A camera at the end of the arthroscope transmits pictures from inside the knee to a TV monitor in the operating room.
Surgical drills are inserted through other small incisions. The surgeon drills small holes into the upper and lower leg bones where these bones come close together at the knee joint. The holes form tunnels through which the graft will be anchored.
If you are using your own tissue, the surgeon will make another incision in the knee and take the graft (replacement tissue).
The graft is pulled through the tunnels that were drilled in the upper and lower leg bones. The surgeon secures the graft with hardware such as screws or staples and will close the incisions with stitches or tape. The knee is bandaged, and you are taken to the recovery room for 2 to 3 hours.
During ACL surgery, the surgeon may repair other injured parts of the knee as well, such as menisci, other knee ligaments, cartilage, or broken bones.
After ACL surgery
Once you recover from the anesthesia, you'll be allowed to go home later that same day. Before you go home, you'll practice walking with crutches, and your surgeon may ask you to wear a knee brace or splint to help protect the graft.
Before you leave the hospital, you will receive instructions on when you can shower or bathe, when you should change dressings on the wound, and how to manage post-surgery care. To reduce swelling and pain in the days immediately following your surgery, follow the R.I.C.E. model of self-care at home:
- Rest: - General rest is necessary for recovery after surgery. Follow your surgeon's advice on how long to use crutches and limit weight-bearing on your knee.
- Ice: - When you're awake, try to ice your knee at least every two hours for 20 minutes at a time.
- Compression: - Wrap an elastic bandage or compression wrap around your knee.
- Elevation: - Lie down with your knee propped up on pillows.