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The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the main stabilising ligament of the knee joint.  It is usually injured during sport when the knee is loaded and a twisting force is applied.  Other structures around the knee can be injured as well.  This includes the meniscus (shock absorber), cartilage surfaces or the collateral ligaments.  It can be difficult to return to sports and other activities without a functioning ACL.


Reconstruction of the ACL is recommended for patients who:

  • Intend to return to a sport that requires twisting or changing direction

  • Can no longer trust their knee (despite physiotherapy treatment)

  • Who have sustained injuries to other areas of their knee


Rehabilitation is important before and after ACL reconstruction. The goals of physiotherapy are:

  • Control the swelling around the knee

  • Improve the range of motion

  • Improve the strength of the knee and core muscles

  • Practice sport-specific exercises before return to sport

  • The procedure uses a graft to replace the torn ligament. The graft is commonly a portion of the hamstring tendons, patella tendon or quadriceps tendon.  The graft is then fixed to the femur and tibia, in the position of the torn ACL.  This is done using a combination of fixation devices.  Other injured areas of the knee are usually repaired at the time of the ACL reconstruction 

  • A brace is occasionally required after the procedure, and physiotherapy is essential

  • The hospital stay is usually 1 night

  • You will require significant and ongoing physiotherapy treatment after ACL reconstruction

  • Your surgical incision will be reviewed 2 weeks after surgery

  • You should not return to sport until at least 9 months after the surgery. You should seek clearance from your surgeon and physiotherapist

What's involved? 

What's involved?

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