Ligament reconstruction

Knee ligament injuries are common especially among young, active sports people.

Three bones come together to form the knee joint - the femur, tibia and patella. These bones are held together by ligaments, including:

  • Posterior cruciate ligament Situated at the back of the knee joint, this ligament keeps the tibia in place and prevents the tibia from moving backwards with respect to the femur.
  • Anterior cruciate ligament Situated in the middle of the knee, this ligament stabilizes the knee by preventing the tibia from moving forward with respect to the femur as well as by providing rotational stability.
  • Lateral collateral ligament Situated on the outside of the knee, this ligament connects the femur and head of the fibula, and controls the sideways movement of the knee.
  • Medial collateral ligament Situated on the inside of the knee, this ligament connects the femur to the tibia, and controls the sideways movement of the knee.

How can ligaments be damaged?

Knee ligament are damaged by trauma, and can be caused by both contact and non-contact injuries. Each ligament is injured by a specific mechanism. The most common ligament injury requiring surgery is that of the anterior cruciate ligament.

What are the symptoms of an injured ligament?

Symptoms of an injury include:

  • Knee pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty or discomfort when walking
  • Giving way

What is ligament reconstruction?

In some cases, injured ligaments can be treated non-surgically with rest, immobilization and physiotherapy. However, in severe cases, it may be necessary to undergo surgery. In this case, your orthopaedic surgeon will rebuild the ligament by replacing the damaged ligament with a tissue graft. Tissue grafts are usually taken from patellar, hamstring and quadriceps tendons.

Ligament reconstruction can be performed arthroscopically. During the procedure, your orthopaedic surgeon will place an arthroscope into your joint and perform the procedure with small surgical tools. Damaged cartilage is removed or repaired, and a graft will be positioned. Your surgeon will check that the knee has a normal range of motion and ensure that the graft is stable before finishing the procedure.

How long will recovery take?

After surgery, it is important to discuss a proper rehabilitation plan with your orthopaedic surgeon. You will be required to have physical therapy so that you can ease comfortably back into walking and other physical activity. You doctor will also prescribe pain medication as well as anti inflammatories after surgery.