Ligaments are tough, non-stretchable fibers that connect bones together in the body.
The knee, comprised of the femur, tibia, and patella, is a compound joint capable of movement in multiple planes. The articulation of the femur and tibia permits flexion, extension, and a small amount of rotation. A complex array of ligaments provides stability to the knee joint during these movements.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the the major stabilizing ligaments of the knee. The ACL is located in the centre of the knee joint and runs from the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). The ACL prevents the femur from sliding backwards on the tibia (or the tibia moving forwards relative to the femur). Together with the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), the ACL stabilizes the knee in rotation. When the ACL is torn, the knee becomes unstable in rotation, and susceptible to further injury. Recurrent giving way of the knee is common in the ACL damaged knee.
The ACL is the most commonly injured ligament in the knee. When the ligament is torn it generally does not heal on its own. The ACL can be injured in several ways:
- Changing direction rapidly
- Slowing down when running
- Landing from a jump
- Direct contact, such as in a football tackle
Successful ACL reconstruction surgery tightens your knee and restores its stability. It also helps you avoid further injury and get back to playing sports. Also important in the decision about treatment is that long term instability may lead to early arthritis of the knee.
ACL Reconstruction with Allografts
Allografts are sourced from deceased donors through the NSW, Queensland or Perth bone and tissue banks. Allografts are specially sterilised and treated to prevent graft to host disease transmission and rejection. They are essentially collagen scaffolds with no cellular material remaining and are therefore not subject to rejection by the immune system. Anti-rejection drugs are therefore not required.
Allograft ACL reconstruction is a proven method that avoids the issues associated with hamstring and patellar donor site harvest.
The recent availability of non-irradiated allografts from the NSW Bone Bank has made allograft ACL reconstruction a very good choice for almost all patients requiring ACL reconstructive surgery.
The advantages of allograft reconstruction are as follows:
- Preserves normal structures usually required for autograft ACL reconstruction (hamstrings, patellar tendon, quadriceps tendon etc)
- Faster and easier recovery
- No hamstring strains
- Minimal muscle wasting
- Less pain and swelling
- Fewer complications
- Faster return to sport