When will I be a Admitted to Hospital?
You will normally be admitted on the same day as surgery. You will be advised prior to admission the time up to when you can eat and drink. This will allow you to arrive fasted and prepared for surgery.
What sort of anaesthetic will I be given?
The vast majority of ACL Reconstructions are performed under a general anaesthetic. Occasionally, for medical reasons, a spinal anaesthetic may be given. This is normally decided with the anaesthetist. Local anaesthetic is also injected into the knee at the time of surgery to provide pain relief in the post-operative period.
How long does the surgery take?
Surgical time varies according to the complexity of the problem. There may be associated injuries to the knee such as a meniscal or cartilage tear that was sustained during the initial injury or at a later date as a secondary injury. The majority of ACL reconstructions are completed within 60 mins.
When do I go home?
The majority of patients are fit to be discharged home within 24hrs and some patients go home on the day of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Your surgeon will advise a plan for discharge based on the specific surgery and physiotherapist recommendations.
It is important to have a responsible adult at home for 24 hrs following a general anaesthetic.
Will I require painkillers?
Painkillers and/or anti-inflammatory tablets are provided by the hospital for the first few days following ligament reconstruction and advice will be offered prior to leaving hospital. Regular painkillers and/or anti-inflammatory medication are important to allow early mobilisation.
When do I remove my dressings?
The large wool and crepe bandage should be removed 24-48 hrs following your ligament reconstruction. The small dressings over each wound should be left on for 5 days and then removed providing all leakage has stopped. Re-apply a fresh dry dressing or plaster if there is still any leakage from the wound.
What can I do at home after ligament reconstruction?
For the first few days, try to keep the leg elevated when sitting down and rest as much as possible. Do your exercises frequently. You can put as much weight through the knee as comfortable but the muscles around the knee will be weak and therefore crutches are encouraged for support for a few days. The hospital physiotherapists will give you specific advice prior to discharge from hospital.
When can I take a shower after ligament reconstruction?
You may take a shower or bathe from the day after ligament reconstruction providing you keep the wound areas completely dry. Provided the wounds have healed, they can be soaked from day 5.
When can I drive?
In order to drive safely you must have regained good muscle control of the operated leg. This is normally at least 2 weeks following surgery. Advice can be sought from your surgeon or physiotherapist. . You should be confident you are in full control of the car and be able to perform an emergency stop with no hesitation.
When will I start physiotherapy?
Out-patient physiotherapy will normally start within a week of your ligament reconstruction. This must be with an experienced knee physiotherapist and will follow a structured program in order to get the best results from your ligament reconstruction surgery. There are important activity restrictions over the first few months following ACL reconstruction and these will be explained fully by your physiotherapist. If these restrictions are ignored there is a significant chance that the surgery will fail.
Related topic: Physiotherapy
When can I return to work?
This depends on the recovery from surgery and the type of work. Some patients have more complicated surgery which may require extra restrictions. The majority of office workers can return within 2 weeks, whilst those patients who need to stand for long periods may need 2-3 weeks off work. Heavy manual work or patients whose jobs require carrying or lifting may not return to work until advised by their surgeon or physiotherapist.
Should I do exercises at home?
Simple exercises will normally be demonstrated by the physiotherapists prior to leaving hospital. These must be performed regularly as well as frequent ice application to reduce swelling etc.. Further exercises will be explained by your physiotherapist. The success of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery depends upon complying with the rehabilitation programme which must be supervised by your physiotherapist.
What are the possible complications following ligament reconstruction?
Serious complications are uncommon following knee ligament reconstruction but can occur. These include infection, blood clots (or DVT – deep vein thrombosis), excessive swelling, bleeding and damage to blood vessels or nerves.
There is always a small risk that the reconstructed graft can rupture, in a similar way to the original injury to your ligament. This risk is greatest in the first 3 months following surgery. It is therefore important an experienced physiotherapist supervises your recovery.
Warning signs following surgery you should look out for are:
- Fever / Chills above 38ºC (100.4ºF).
- Persistent warmth or redness around the knee.
- Persistent or increased pain.
- Significant swelling, tingling or numbness in your knee/leg which is not relieved by elevating the leg for one hour.
- Increasing pain in your calf muscles.
- Shortness of breath or chest pain.
If you experience any of the above please contact the Hospital for advice.