Spine Surgery

What is knee ligament repair?

Ligaments are bands of tough, elastic connective tissue that surround a joint to give support and limit the joint's movement. When ligaments are damaged, the knee joint may become unstable. Ligament damage often happens from a sports injury. A torn ligament severely limits knee movement. This results in the inability to pivot, turn, or twist the leg. Surgery is a choice to repair a torn ligament if other medical treatment is not effective.

There are 4 major ligaments in the knee. The ligaments in the knee connect the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shin bone), and include the following:
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ligament, located in the center of the knee, that controls rotation and forward movement of the tibia (shin bone).
Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). The ligament, located in the center of the knee, that controls backward movement of the tibia (shin bone).
Medial collateral ligament (MCL). The ligament that gives stability to the inner knee.
• Lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The ligament that gives stability to the outer knee.

Why might I need a knee ligament repair?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is located toward the front of the knee. It is the most common ligament to be injured. The ACL is often stretched and/or torn during a sudden twisting motion (when the feet stay planted one way, but the knees turn the other way). Skiing, basketball, and football are sports that have a higher risk of ACL injuries.

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is located toward the back of the knee. It is also a common knee ligament to be injured. However, the PCL injury usually happens with sudden, direct impact, such as in a car accident or during a football tackle.

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is located on the inner side of the knee. It is injured more often than the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), which is on the outer side of the knee. Stretch and tear injuries to the collateral ligaments are usually caused by a blow to the outer side of the knee, such as when playing hockey or football.
Early medical treatment for knee ligament injury may include:
  • Rest
  • Ice pack application (to reduce swelling that happens within hours of the injury)
  • Compression (from an elastic bandage or brace)
  • Elevation
  • Pain relievers
A knee ligament tear may be treated with the following:
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises
  • Protective knee brace (for use during exercise)
  • Activity limitations

Knee ligament repair is a treatment for a complete tear of a knee ligament that results in instability in the knee. People with a torn knee ligament may be unable to do normal activities that involve twisting or turning at the knee. The knee may buckle or “give-way.” If medical treatments are not satisfactory, ligament repair surgery may be an effective treatment.

The surgery to correct a torn knee ligament involves replacing the ligament with a piece of healthy tendon. A tendon from the kneecap or hamstring, for example, is grafted into place to hold the knee joint together. The tendon graft may come from the person (autograft) or from an organ donor (allograft).