Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear surgery and reconstruction

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear surgery and reconstruction

Surgery is used to reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee when it has been completely torn. Most ACL tears cannot simply be stitched back together. In order to restore knee stability, the ligament must be reconstructed.

During ACL tear surgery, your doctor will replace your torn ligament with a tissue graft which will, in turn, act as a scaffold on which the new ACL ligament will grow. Since the new ligament takes time to re-grow, it may be six months or more before an athlete can return to sports after injury.

Arthroscopic ACL reconstruction surgery

The surgical procedure of choice for ACL reconstruction is called arthroscopy, a minimally invasive technique where a surgeon makes small incisions in the knee, instead of a much larger incision used in traditional open surgery. An arthroscope is a pencil-thin tube specially designed to go into joints. It consists of a system of lenses, a light and a small video camera. The surgeon inserts it into one of the small incisions and then inserts special, thin surgical tools into the other small incisions. The surgeon is guided through the surgery by the real-time images from the camera. The torn ligament is removed, along with any harmful debris such as bone or cartilage chips. The surgeon then replaces the torn ligament with the tissue graft.

Arthroscopic surgery has many benefits for patients, including:

  • Less invasive
  • Less pain from surgery
  • Less time spent in the hospital
  • Quicker recovery time
  • Faster return to regular activities

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