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ACL Reconstruction Surgery

The knee is one of the largest, most complex joints in our bodies. It is more than just a hinge connecting the two longest mechanical levers in our body; the thigh bone and shin bone. Our knees are what allow our bodies to rationally move, jump, sit, and absorb the shock created by our upper bodies. The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is crucial for protecting the knee and allowing basic movements like leg rotation and everyday comfort. Any problems such as tears or injuries to the ACL will affect the knee’s ability to function correctly disrupting the everyday performance. ACL reconstruction surgery works by replacing the injured or torn ACL with a graft to return normal function to the knee and help you return to your normal lifestyle.

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ACL Reconstruction Surgery At Our Kelowna Private Hospital

Our team of experienced orthopedic specialists is committed to keeping up with the latest knee surgery techniques to be able to provide you with a minimally invasive surgery and a shorter recovery period. 
Minimize your pain and restore your mobility by visiting our Kelowna private hospital or call us at (250) 868-9799.

Why Is The ACL Important?

The ACL is a strong ligament that runs anteriorly from the outer backside of the femur to the front side of the tibia. The ACL plays a crucial role in helping our knees maintain healthy function by: 

  • Guiding the instantaneous center of rotation of the knee  
  • Stabilizing the knee during movements like bending and jumping
  • Protecting the knee from hyperextension
  • Protecting other ligaments in the knee
  • Preventing the tibia from sliding out from underneath the femur 

What Is ACL Reconstruction Surgery?

ACL tears are not capable of healing on their own and require surgical intervention and physical therapy. Surgeons recommend that patients with a torn ACL receive immediate ACL reconstruction surgery to prevent long-term effects such as arthritis or osteoarthritis. ACL reconstruction is the current standard-of-care treatment for ACL tears as opposed to the older technique of ACL repair surgery. It involves removing the torn ligament in the knee and replacing it with a graft. The surgery is 2-3 hours long and is minimally invasive requiring only two to three incisions. ACL reconstruction surgery requires a lot of downtime for your knee to correctly heal around the new graft. The recovery process usually lasts anywhere from three months to a full year and can require physical therapy sessions to help strengthen the knee post-surgery.

Types Of ACL Reconstruction

After your doctor has removed the injured ACL ligament, they will replace it with a tendon that connects the muscle back to the bone. This is known as a graft. Three main types of grafts are used in ACL reconstruction:


This is the most common type of graft used for ACL reconstruction and requires your doctor to remove a tendon from another part of your body to use as a replacement. There are different areas in your body that a doctor can take a graft from such as your kneecap, hamstring, or quadriceps tendon. The patellar (kneecap) tendon is the most common graft used since it has the ability to heal itself and regrow missing portions over time.


Allograft tissue is taken from a deceased donor. Allograft reconstruction only requires one incision and causes less pain than autograft surgeries but comes with the risk of serious infection such as HIV and hepatitis. For this reason, allograft surgeries are not as commonly performed.


Artificial materials are used to replicate and replace the torn ACL. These types of grafts have been studied in trials but have not performed as well as human tissue grafts. There is still a lot of research required to find the best materials to give the same results as allografts or autografts and this technique is still experimental at this time.

Who Needs ACL Reconstruction Surgery?

The need for ACL reconstruction surgery depends on the severity of the ACL tear as well as the patient's lifestyle. ACL repairs are commonly performed on individuals who are actively involved in sporting activities such as athletes or individuals who are experiencing severe knee discomfort that prevents them from performing everyday tasks. Other knee injuries can also prompt the need for an ACL replacement such as meniscal tears or dislocations. If individuals experience stiffness in mobility or if the knees are “giving out” during daily activities, talk to your doctor to see if you are a good candidate for ACL reconstruction surgery.


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Are you experiencing chronic knee pain or do you have a past knee injury that just won't heal? Contact our private Kelowna hospital by calling (250)-868-9799 to get in touch with one of our board-certified orthopedic surgeons to help you get back to healthy living. Do not let chronic knee pain affect your lifestyle and explore how ACL reconstruction surgery can help you.


Frequently Asked Questions:

How long is the recovery period for ACL reconstruction surgery?

The recovery period from ACL reconstruction surgery will last several months. A well-structured physical therapy program is also involved in the recovery process in order for your knee to regain strength and normal function. Here is a timeline of what you can expect as you recover from surgery:

  • 3-6 weeks: The ability to put full weight on your knee and participate in light activities such as walking and biking.
  • 10-12 weeks: Your knees will start gaining the strength to withstand higher impact activities such as light running or long walks.
  • 3-4 months: All daily activities can be performed without discomfort or pain. You will also be able to participate in high-impact sports that do not require too much pivoting in the knee.
  • 6-8 months: Full, unlimited use of your knee.

It is important to remember that everyone’s healing process is different and that your recovery may not follow this timeline exactly. Your doctor will discuss a physical therapy and recovery plan that will be personalized to you.

Is ACL reconstruction surgery painful?

After surgery, patients will experience pain and swelling around the knee. Applying weight to the leg will be extremely painful post-operation and you will require physical therapy to help the knee regain strength and mobility.

Will I be in a brace after ACL surgery?

Yes. The brace will help control the motion of your knee joint and limit the range of motion around your knee to allow the graft to heal correctly. You will also require the use of crutches for the first 2-3 weeks after surgery before having the ability to put full weight on the recovering knee.


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