Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) Surgery

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are not uncommon in athletes. ACL injuries happens every day to athletes, whether professional, amateur, or weekend warrior. ACL injuries typically occur in sporting activities with contact and pivoting motions. They can also result from severe hyperextension of the knee joint. Common sports that increase risk of injury include: soccer, football, basketball, skiing, golf, volleyball, or tennis.

The ACL is one of four major knee ligaments. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) keeps the knee from buckling inward. The other two main ligaments of the knee, the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), carry similar functions. The PCL prevents the lower leg from moving backward, and the LCL protects the knee from collapsing outward. Finally, the ACL prevents the lower leg from rotating inward or moving forward with respect to the thigh.

When a joint moves in an abnormal fashion, it may stretch and injure surrounding tissues – such as ligaments. Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect one bone to another and serve to stabilize and coordinate motion at a joint.

In a pivot, the foot is planted with the knee bent when a sudden change in direction occurs, which stresses the ligament. The knee injury can also occur when it is struck from the outside. The resulting force may drive the tibia forward while the femur stays in place or is driven backward.

ACL surgery is necessary once hyperextension, tearing of the ligament, or movement within the knee joint has occurred.

The ACL is critical to knee stability, and people who injure their ACL often complain of their knee giving out from under them. Therefore, many patients who sustain an ACL tear opt to have surgical treatment.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • A loud “popping” sound from the knee
  • Severe pain and inability to continue activity
  • Knee swelling that usually worsens for hours after the injury occurs
  • A feeling of instability or “giving way” with weight bearing

Most people seek immediate medical attention after an ACL injury.

Patients undergoing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery at Holy Cross Hospital in Taos are spending less time in the operating room, spending less money on the procedure, and are less likely to suffer post-operative complications than patients elsewhere in the U.S., according to a survey by Orthopedics This Week.

The journal named Holy Cross as one of the top 25 hospitals in the country for the knee operation. More-efficient procedures have also lowered the cost of ACL surgery at Holy Cross Hospital, to rates far below the national average of $7,008. The typical cost of ACL surgery at Holy Cross Hospital is $2,998, according to the survey.

Doctors at the Taos Orthopedic Institute, who perform their operations at Holy Cross, have embraced a surgical technique called “Graft-Link.” The method is described as a “second-generation, no-incision” means of ACL reconstruction. The less-invasive procedures are also lowering the risk of infection. The complication rate for ACL surgeries at Holy Cross Hospital is near zero, according to the survey.