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Apr 29

The stages of a knee reconstruction surgery

Knee reconstruction surgery is an intervention performed most of the time on people under the age of 50 who suffer from an unstable knee that gives way. However, people of all ages are susceptible to it in case they experience a trauma or serious accident. Knee injuries can affect the joints, muscles and bones and the surgical option is considered only after a careful assessment of your knee and your functional requirements, so if you have an unstable knee that gives way repeatedly and difficulties in performing daily activities and no other treatment brings result, knee reconstruction surgery may be the only option you have. ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction can be one of the procedures. It consists in placing a tissue graft instead of the anterior cruciate ligament, in order to eliminate the joint injury. Through an arthroscopic surgery, the original ligament is removed and then the graft is inserted, replacing it. The procedure varies from patient to patient, and while some prefer general anaesthesia, other types of anaesthesia work perfectly, since the intervention does not involve other parts of the body at all.

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There are many options as far as the tissue graft is concerned: it may be taken from other parts of your body or from a donor (allograft). The first one is called autograft, and of course, the tissue cannot be taken from any part of the body, and the most common places from where it can be taken are the knee cap tendon or the hamstring tendon. The new ACL will be fixed arthroscopically through tunnels drilled in the bone. This means that through a small cut, a camera connected to a video screen is introduced into the knee, and doctors in the OR can see the the intervention on the monitor. This tiny camera is used by the doctor to check better the tissues of the knee. Although the surgery is not invasive, the doctor will perform some other additional cuts, where they will insert other tools and instruments. The torn tissue will be removed and the new ACL will be fixed in the same place as the old one. Afterwards, using screws, the surgeon will attach the new ligament on the bones and muscles, whose tunnels will keep the tissue in place. Once the procedure is done, the doctor will close the cuts and cover the open wound and you can even ask for pictures from the surgery, in case you are curious to see what happened.

 

If everything goes according to the plan, you can even go home the same day after the intervention. Due to security reasons, some doctors recommend patients to spend the following night in the hospital, so that they can see how things develop. Once you are discharged from the hospital, you may have to wear a knee brace for one up to four weeks and walk using crutches, to avoid forcing the leg. Even if you may need pain killers once the anaesthesia’s effect passes, you will be able to move the leg after the intervention, in order to prevent stiffness. A post operatory recovery plan will be created, and you will be likely to return to your routine after only four months of rest.

 

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