What is the lateral collateral ligament?
The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) runs along the outside of the knee and connects the femur (thighbone) to the fibula. Its main function is to help keep the knee stable, especially the outer aspect of the joint. LCL tears can occur with injuries such as a direct blow to the inside of the knee, a sharp change in direction, twisting the knee with the foot planted, or hyperextension of the knee.
How do I know if I need LCL surgery?
The treatment options for LCL injuries will depend on the severity of the injury and your lifestyle. The LCL does not heal as well on its own compared to other knee ligaments. Dr. Potts may recommend surgery to repair or reconstruct the LCL if the tear is severe, if your knee has significant instability, or if there is a combination of other injuries present.
What happens during LCL surgery?
There are two main types of surgeries to fix LCL tears: repair and reconstruction. LCL surgery is typically an open procedure since the ligament is located on the outside of the knee, and cannot be visualized with an arthroscope (a tiny camera placed in the knee joint).
- LCL Repair
- If the ligament was torn at the end where it attaches to bone, Dr. Potts will reattach the ligament using large sutures and suture anchors
- If the tear happened in the middle of the ligament, the torn ends can be sewn back together using strong and durable suture. This surgery is typically only appropriate if the tear is recent (within a few weeks from when the injury occurred)
- LCL Reconstruction
- If the damage to your ligament was so severe it cannot be repaired, Dr. Potts may recommend a reconstruction of your LCL. During this procedure, your ligament is rebuilt with a tendon graft. The graft is passed through bone tunnels and fixed to the bone using surgical screws and sutures