Common Sports Injuries: An Overview Of The ACL Reconstruction Surgery Procedure

The Buffalo Bills thought its second round draft pick this year of Reggie Ragland would fill a void in its linebacking core; instead, Ragland was just put on injured reserve for the season while he heals from ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) reconstruction surgery on his left knee. This type of injury is common among professional and amateur athletes from all types of sports. The pressure of running, turning, shifting, or having someone fall on your lower leg can easily tear the ACL or detach it from the bone. If you or one of your kids tears an ACL in half this summer or fall, here is what you should expect during the surgery to repair the damage.

Cleaning Surgical Area

A nurse, or nurse's aide, will shave the hair off your leg around the surgical site. An antiseptic solution will be applied to the site to kill any bacteria on your leg. This will help to prevent an infection while the wound heals.


Most surgeons will use a general anesthetic to sedate you instead of using a local anesthetic that will only numb the surgical site. This not only prevents you from feeling any pain during the surgery, but it helps to keep your body still while the surgeon operates.

Surgical Incisions

Most surgeries are done using arthroscopic surgical tools. These tools only need a small opening to access the surgical area. However, in some instances, the surgery might require that the surgeon opens up the knee with a large incision to thoroughly expose the damaged area. This will result in a noticeable scar. You and your surgeon will discuss the best option for your case.


The surgeon will replace the torn ligament with one from another part of your leg or body, or they will use a ligament that has been cleaned and sterilized from a human cadaver (which is a deceased body). There will be holes drilled through the bones that the ligament connects to together. The ligament will be threaded through the holes in the bones and anchored to the bones using stainless steel screws or staples. 

Healing Time

The knee area will be swollen and painful for at least a few days after the surgery. You can ice it down to reduce the swelling and relieve some of the pain. The surgeon will usually prescribe pain medication the help relieve your discomfort. Physically therapy will be needed once the bone and ligament heal enough to withstand the pressure. The rehabilitation time can take several months to a year depending on how quick you heal.

For more information about this kind of surgery and the recovery process, contact an orthopedics clinic.