Anterior Cruciate Ligament Repair (ACL, MCL, MPFL, PCL, LCL)

The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is one of the ligaments in the knee. Athletes who play sports that require sudden stops and turns are more likely to experience injuries or tears to their ACLs, and tears usually have to be reconstructed surgically. The ACL is one of two ligaments that connects your thighbone to your shinbone and stabilizes your knee. With reconstruction, the torn ACL will be removed, and a tendon from your body or one from a deceased donor will serve as a graft onto which new ligament tissue will grow. The are additional ligaments in the knee including the MCL (medial collateral ligament), the MPFL (medial patellofemoral ligament), the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), and the LCL (lateral cruciate ligament). If any of these ligaments tear, they may also require surgery. It is possible, however, for doctors to reconstruct ligaments in the knee using arthroscopy and multiple small incisions instead of one long incision.

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What is an Arthroscope

An arthroscope (or scope) is a small flexible tool with a camera attached to the end that can be inserted through a small incision so the surgeon can see inside and around the knee. Using an arthroscope, your surgeon will be able to look on a screen at the joint and the surgical instruments so that the ligament(s) can be reconstructed without any large incisions.

When Procedure is Used

While some ligament injuries and tears may heal with conservative measures such as rest, ice, and physical therapy, others (and especially ACL tears) require surgery. Active athletes and younger patients are more likely to have their ACLs surgically reconstructed because they will recover more quickly as a result of the procedure.

During Surgery

You will most likely be given a general anesthesia to make sure you relax and to prevent pain and help you fall asleep. Your surgeon will then make small incisions, including one for the scope itself and additional incisions for the surgical instruments. After the torn ligament is removed, the replacement tendon will be secured inside the knee with hardware or another fixation method in order for new ligament tissue to grow along the graft.


The risk of complications is very low. However, potential risks might include

  • allergic reactions to medications
  • nerve damage
  • bleeding or blood clots
  • infection
  • injury to surrounding tissues
  • numbness


  • elimination of or decrease in pain
  • improvement in knee function
  • increase in strength

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