Ligaments are tissues that connect bones to other bones. Ligaments can be stretched, strained, and even torn, with ligament injuries reasonably common among those who play sports and engage in regular strenuous physical activity. In the knee, there are four different types of ligament:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
What is Knee Ligament Surgery?
Knee injuries can occur during skiing, tennis, squash, football and rugby. If you tear the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in your knee, you may need reconstructive surgery.
The ACL is a tough band of tissue joining the thigh bone to the shin bone at the knee joint. It runs diagonally through the inside of the knee and gives the knee joint stability.
Often you will be offered surgery if:
- You are young and active
- The injury causes constant buckling of the knee when performing daily exercises
- An athlete who wishes to remain practicing
- Constant pain
What Are The Benefits of Knee Ligament Surgery?
Knee ligament surgery does have a success rate and can often resolve the problem or injury in question very effectively. Some of the benefits include:
- Allows return to sports that require a functioning ACL
- May protect future damage to the knee cartilage
- Offers the potential for a normal function knee
What Are The Symptoms of Knee Ligament Injury?
The signs and symptoms someone may be experiencing when needing knee ligament surgery include:
- A loud ‘pop’ or ‘popping’ sensation in the knee
- Severe pain and inability to continue the activity
- Rapid swelling
- Loss of range of motion
- A feeling of instability or ‘giving way’ with weight-bearing
The Knee Ligament Surgery Procedure
Ligament repair is often performed as an outpatient surgery. Several small incisions are made on the knee, and the procedure is carried out using an arthroscope (more information here), feeding repair instruments through cannulas to repair damage in a minimally invasive procedure. The torn ligament is either fixed or reattached to the bone, and reconstruction can be done using a graft from another tendon.
Small holes are then drilled in the tibia and femur, where the ligament was torn. The graft is threaded through the holes and attached using screws or surgical staples. This is done to allow the bone to grow, develop, and strengthen the graft eventually. Finally, the incision is closed using stitches. Crutches and a knee brace will need to be used following surgery and some physiotherapy may also be required.
What Are The Risks of Knee Ligament Surgery?
Like with any other procedure, there are some risks associated with knee ligament surgery. These may include:
- Bleeding and blood clots
- Continued knee pain
- Knee stiffness or weakness
- Loss of range of mention
How Much Does Knee Ligament Surgery Cost?
- Privately, knee ligament surgery in the UK costs between £4,945 – £8,805, but it may cost significantly more, depending on the specific case.
- This treatment is available on the NHS for those who meet the criteria; however, there is a waiting list of likely more than 18 months.