ACL Tear Surgery in Metairie, LA

ACL Tear Surgery in New OrleansFor athletes, a diagnosis of an ACL tear can be season-ending news. This musculoskeletal condition causes intense pain, joint immobility, and can sideline an athlete for weeks. Today, with minimally invasive solutions to knee surgery like arthroscopy, an ACL tear can be treated using much smaller incisions, potentially leading to a quicker recovery, less blood loss during the operation, and less noticeable scarring. Additionally, knee arthroscopy is often performed on an outpatient basis, allowing patients to return home the same day of surgery.

Anatomy of the Knee

The knee is a hinge joint, formed by the ends of the femur, or thighbone, and the tibia, or shinbone. These bones join together in a way that allows the joint to swing through a single axis. The kneecap, or patella, attaches to the front of the knee, providing protection against trauma.

Cartilage lines the surfaces of the joint to provide additional protection against friction that occurs during routine use. These jelly-like sacs of cartilage, known as the menisci, lie between the femur and the tibia and act as shock absorbers as body weight places stress on the knee joint.

The Ligaments of the Knee

To add additional support to the knee, ligaments attach to the bones to limit the joint's natural range of motion and prevent over extension. The collateral ligaments, including the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), are located on the sides of the knee, and help control the sideways motion of the knee, bracing it against unnatural movement. The cruciate ligaments, including the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), are located inside the knee joint, and control the back-and-forth motion of the knee.

ACL Injuries

Of these four ligaments, the ACL is the most commonly injured, especially due to sports and athletic activity. This injury is seen in athletes that quickly change directions running, or play contact sports, such as football. When athletes plant the foot and change directions quickly, the ACL can become strained beyond its means and tear, resulting in significant pain and immobility. Additionally, when playing contact sports, being hit by another person or object can cause the knee to twist, bend backward, or bend to the side so as to pull the ACL and tear it.

ACL Tear Symptoms

Tearing the ACL causes immense pain for sufferers, and often results in swelling within the first few hours of the injury. Many patients will report hearing a loud "pop" sound at the time of the injury, followed by a sensation that the knee has "given out" from underneath them. Limited range of motion and instability are hallmarks of an ACL tear.

Treating an ACL Tear

Because the ACL lacks a strong blood flow, the ligament rarely is able to heal on its own. "Micro tears", or less significant ACL injuries, can often be treated through noninvasive means, which focus on rehabilitating the knee and strengthening the surrounding muscles for added support. Severe tears, however, typically require surgical intervention that seeks to mend the torn pieces back together using grafts to replace the ligament.

Knee Arthroscopy for ACL Surgery

When surgery is indicated for an ACL tear, knee arthroscopy is a preferred method of treatment, particularly in sports medicine cases. Arthroscopy allows a knee surgeon to perform the procedure in a minimally invasive manner, utilizing fiber-optic camera technology, tiny incisions, and pencil-sized operating instruments.

During knee arthroscopy to correct an ACL tear, the doctor will make a small incision on the front of the knee large enough to insert the "arthroscope", a fiber-optic camera that sends real-time images to a monitor on the screen. This allows the surgeon to see the joint from within, providing more clarity to the structures of the knee without the use of large incisions. The surgeon will then make another incision to insert the operating instruments and perform the operation. Grafts are used to connect the torn pieces of tendon and secure them together.

Immediately after the procedure, the patient is taken into a recovery room for a matter of hours, after which the patient is free to return home. This procedure is commonly performed on an outpatient basis, making knee arthroscopy a more convenient option than open surgery, which typically requires a lengthy post-operative hospital stay.

Benefits of Arthroscopy for ACL Tears

Knee arthroscopy is the preferred surgical treatment method for ACL tears because of the potential benefits provided beyond traditional open surgery. Potential benefits of knee arthroscopy include:

  • Less severe scarring
  • Significantly shortened post-operative recovery period
  • Less blood loss during surgery
  • Performed on an outpatient basis

ACL Surgery in New Orleans and Metairie

Before diagnosing a knee injury and selecting a treatment method, it is best to see an orthopedic surgeon who is trained to treat sports injuries. Dr. Junius of Crescent City Orthopedics is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon practicing in Metairie, providing world-class sports medicine care to his patients in the New Orleans, LA area. Schedule an appointment to speak with Dr. Junius, who can properly assess and diagnose the patient's knee injury.