Thursday, December 13, 2007

ACL primer

I have been remiss in keeping up with my blog, to all my loyal readers I must profusely appoligize.
The reason behind my absence is of course that I had ACL reconstructive surgery. Please follow along with me as I give you the nuts and bolts of the whole thing. Some descriptions may be graphic in nature, so you might want to put down that muffin while reading.

This diagram shows all the parts of the knee that we will be dealing with today. My ACL or anterior crutiate ligament was snapped in half on a ride that happened in mid August. For a recap of that event you can read about it here. The Articular cartilage was nicked and in need of repair. They used a newish technique called micro fractures wherein the surgeon drills tiny holes in the bone hoping that the scar tissue that forms will take the place of the cartilage. Yummy. My lateral meniscus was folded in half and a third of it had to be removed.

That same knee had been repaired back in 01' by the same doc who did it this time. He was particularly proud of the fact that it was the ligament that failed and not his connections. As a side note please find the PCL in the picture. Good, if you snap this ligament they will not repair it. I know this because of a Thanksgiving day football game and a very special Thanksgiving day trip to the ER.

So how do they put a new tendon in? I'm glad you asked, the doctors take what can best be described as a "bone drill" and make a tunnel that they can insert the new tissue thru.

The tendon is then secured at the top and bottom with bone screws and packed with leftover bone chips to aid bone regeneration.

Here is a x-ray showing the screw and upper connection.

So where do the new tendons come from? Another excellent question. The first time I had this done the I had part of my hamstring removed and used for the replacement parts. That was not an option this time so I opted for used parts or "Cadaver donation," in the spirit of good taste I will leave the description at that.

Now that I am post op 4+ weeks I can say that it hasn't been to bad. The rehab has been much better than the first time around


Sarah said...

Glad it has been a breezy recovery for you-- it felt kinda long and drawn out to me, but I am a bit biased. Glad your gimpy-ness is subsiding some.

Jamey and Tara said...

Thanks for the advice. I have never done this before and have no idea what to expect or ask for. I had surgery on this knee 3 years ago to shave splintered cartilage (I should probably think about giving up skiing), but I have no idea of what goes on with his surgery! The only thing the doc told me is that it is painful! I'm glad yours is healing well and I'm hoping for a speedy recovery!

Jamey and Tara said...

I meant speedy recovery for you (sorry screaming kids make me end mid-sentence sometimes)! :)

farmgirl said... and Mike are twinners- he has cadaver bone in his neck. I wonder if it was from the same poor fellow?

Bruno Orazio said...

hey man the exact same thing happened to me i snapped my acl clean in half and had a slight tear in my mcl. I have two screws and two spiked washers in my knee. i got the cadaver graft i was back on my feet in about 6 weeks after surgery> i snapped it wrestling at the time my adrenaline was obviously flowing and i didnt feel a thing just heard a snap(felt it a few hours later tho) the weirdest thing was it was only unsteady when i wasnt standing on it walking sitting etc.