ACL Tear and Reconstruction
People typically tear their ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) when they stop suddenly, change direction abruptly, or land incorrectly from a jump. It’s one of the most common knee injuries and often occurs in athletes who play twisting sports like basketball, football and soccer.
Physical rehabilitation can help people walk after an ACL tear, and older adults who are less active may be able to recover without surgery. Most active people, however, benefit from ACL reconstruction. Knees with untreated ACL tears run the risk of further damaging the meniscus and cartilage in the knee.
ACL Surgery: Autograph vs. Allograft
Your surgeon reconstructs the ACL by grafting a piece of tendon onto the knee where your ACL was torn. The tendon is fixed to the bone with biodegradable screws or buttons. Usually—95 percent of the time—the body reestablishes blood supply to the grated tendon.
There are two types of grafts:
- Autograft ACL reconstruction: Tendons such as the patellar tendon and hamstring tendon are taken from your own body and used for the graft. The main advantage of autographs is that you use tissue from your own body. The disadvantage is that you may suffer some pain, weakness, fracture, or scarring where the graft tendon was harvested.
- Allograft ACL reconstruction: Tendons are taken from human donors rather than your own body. The primary advantage of allograft tissue is that there is no additional damage to the knee and stronger grafts can be used. However, there is a very small chance of disease transmission, and these grafts may stretch out in younger patients.
Orthopedic surgeons at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation are experienced and expert in performing ACL reconstruction with minimally invasive surgery called arthroscopy. Our goal is to get you back in the game.
In-depth information on ACL Tears and Reconstruction.