ACL Reconstruction

On this page you will find information about an ACL reconstruction. For further information, contact your GP or healthcare professional.

A brief section on the anterior cruciate ligament

The ACL or anterior cruciate ligament plays a key role in your knee joint by providing stability.

When you tear or rupture this ligament, your knee can collapse or buckle when you twist or turn it.

Figure 1
Internal structure of the right knee
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How did my ACL rupture?

A twisting injury to the knee can cause the ACL to rupture. Football and skiing are common activities that can result in this type of injury. It is also not unusual for other knee parts to sustain injury at the same time. These include tearing cartilages or damaging the joint surface.

How you can benefit from this surgery?

A successful result from an ACL reconstruction often means that the knee is no longer prone to collapsing. This enables you to continue to enjoy sporting activities and benefit from an active lifestyle.

Are there alternative procedures to surgery?

Wearing a knee brace can be beneficial during physical and sporting activities. Your physiotherapist can also provide thigh muscle strengthening and co-ordination exercises.

What does an ACL reconstruction involve?

Various anaesthetic techniques are possible for the operation which generally takes between an hour and an hour and a half.

During the ACL reconstruction your surgeon will make one or more cuts around your knee area. They may choose to look inside your knee joint using a camera, also known as an arthroscopy or keyhole surgery.

Using a suitable portion of tissue from another part of your body, your surgeon will replace the damaged anterior cruciate ligament. This will be done by securing the ends of the replacement ACL to the bone using anchors or special screws.

What complications could you experience?

General complications include:

  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Pain
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Scarring


Specific complications include:

  • The knee keeps giving way
  • Discomfort in the front of the knee
  • Damage to nerves around the knee
  • Infection in the knee joint
  • Loss of knee movement
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the knee (complex regional knee syndrome)
  • Break of the kneecap

How long will you take to recover?

Most people are able to go home on the same day or the day after the ACL reconstruction operation.

It is common for your surgeon to suggest that you wear a knee brace for a few weeks after the procedure.

Intensive physiotherapy is also recommended once your knee has calmed down after surgery. The treatment may last for up to six months.

Returning to normal activities quickly can be achieved through regular exercise.

Always seek advice from your GP or healthcare professional before embarking on exercise.

It is possible that your knee will never be quite as strong as it was before you injured it.

To summarise

An ACL reconstruction may improve the stability of your knee in everyday life if it persistently gives way. It may also increase your chances of participating in sporting activities that would not be viable without it.


EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare. 

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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