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Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction


What is an ACL tear?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four major ligaments in the knee, and runs from the front of the tibia (shinbone) to the back of the femur (thighbone). It is considered the main stabilizing ligament of the knee, and is responsible for providing proper knee movement and preventing knee instability during physical activity. ACL tears are common in athletes and are typically seen in sports that require cutting, pivoting, or jumping.


How do I know if I need ACL surgery?

 Depending on the severity of your injury, Dr. Potts may recommend surgery if:

  • You're an athlete and want to continue in your sport – especially if it involves jumping, cutting, or twisting
  • More than one ligament or the meniscus in your knee is also injured
  • The injury is causing your knee to give out during everyday activities and movements


What is an ACL reconstruction?

Complete ruptures of the ACL typically require surgery in order to fully restore knee function and stability. Dr. Potts performs arthroscopic-assisted ACL reconstruction by removing the torn ligament and replacing it with a new segment of tendon, called a graft.

ACL reconstruction is performed with the help of knee arthroscopy, where a camera and surgical instruments are inserted into the knee through a small incisions. During the procedure, Dr. Potts will reconstruct your ACL as well as fix any other damage sustained during your injury. 

The torn ligament is removed arthroscopically with the use of a shaver. If your own tissue is being used to rebuild your ACL, a larger incision will be made to harvest the graft. After the graft is prepared, tunnels are made in your bone to feed the graft into the knee and position it in the same place as your old ACL. The graft is then attached to the bone with  screws or other devices to hold it in place. As healing occurs over time, the bone tunnels will fill in and further secure the new ligament in place.


Where does the graft come from? 

ACL grafts can be obtained from several different sources. Dr. Potts strives to use the patient’s own tendons for the graft, known as an autograft, since their own tissue heals faster and reduces the risks associated with a cadaver tendon graft (allograft). However, allografts may be good options in certain patients, such as those with previous knee injuries or surgeries that do not have adequate tendons to take for grafting. There are advantages and disadvantages to all graft sources, and Dr. Potts will discuss graft choices with you to help determine which is best for your specific injury.