How Is an ACL Reconstruction Surgery Different from an ACL Repair?

ACL injuries can incapacitate you, making movement difficult and causing severe swelling and pain that will not go away on its own. Different treatment options can offer relief and return a high degree of mobility, depending on the severity and type of injury. The two best options are ACL reconstruction surgery and ACL repair. Let San Francisco orthopedic doctor James Chen, MD, tell you more about each option.

Woman jogging suffers ACL knee pain in San Francisco

The ACL Reconstruction Process

ACL reconstruction is a type of surgery that can help treat a severely damaged ACL. You must get treatment quickly because a reconstruction surgery needs to occur between three and six weeks after the injury.

Getting it too early is also a problem. The surgery has to take place after the swelling goes down so there is less chance of developing a scarring response called arthrofibrosis.

Some tests can help determine whether you have a partial or complete tear, including the Lachman test and the pivot shift test.

Using the Lachman test, Dr. Chen will try to pull the thigh bone away from the shin bone. If the ACL has torn but is still intact, the bones will not move. With the pivot shift test, you lie on your back while Dr. Chen lifts your leg and puts rotational pressure on your knee.

There are two options for ACL reconstruction: autograft, which involves taking a graft from your patellar, hamstring, or quadricep tendon, and allograft, which involves using tissue from a donor.

An autograft requires the removal of the necessary tissue from the transfer site. This process can require a slightly larger incision than needed for the graft placement.

Renowned San Francisco orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Chen will use minimally-invasive arthroscopic techniques that rely on minimal incisions, small tools, and fiber optics to remove the damaged tissue from your knee and place the graft.

An allograft procedure is similar to an autograft one, also using small incisions and arthroscopic techniques but relying on donor tendon tissue.

The ACL Repair Process

An ACL repair is simpler than a reconstruction procedure and can be helpful if you have a healthy ligament that has torn on one end.

Via arthroscopic surgery, Dr. Chen will sew the ligament in place using sutures and then attach those sutures to the bone using a bioabsorbable anchor.

When Do Patients Need Repair vs. Reconstruction?

San Francisco knee doctor James Chen, MD, will perform a full assessment to determine the best option for your ACL injury.

An ACL repair is a viable option if you have a healthy ACL, but it has detached from one end. This type of procedure can offer many benefits, including:

  • Slightly shorter recovery time

  • Development of better muscle strength

For patients who have an ACL that has torn from both ends or one that is not healthy, the better option is reconstruction surgery.

It can offer more stability and can prevent reinjury, especially in younger patients. It is the best option to help you return to your pre-injury mobility and to maintain it. You are also less likely to experience cartilage degeneration around the injury site with reconstruction surgery, and it lowers your chances of developing osteoarthritis.

Advanced Orthopedic Treatments from James Chen, MD

If you have suffered an ACL injury, turning to an experienced surgeon like Dr. James Chen in San Francisco, CA, is vital. The sooner you get help, the better your chances of making a full recovery. Dr. Chen relies on minimally-invasive options like arthroscopy surgery and the best diagnostic techniques to help understand what treatment option you need.

His patient-centered approach and personalized treatment plans can help you get the quality care you deserve. His practice covers a range of orthopedic treatments, from joint replacements to fracture care, providing conservative treatments that can maximize your results.

With patient testimonials that speak to the quality of his care, James Chen, MD, can be the best option for treating ACL injuries and more.

Get the help you need today by calling Dr. James Chen.


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