What to Expect from ACL Repair

Prior to Surgery

  • You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), lopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood thinners.
  • Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of the surgery.
  • Discuss any possible bleeding disorders or other medical conditions that you may have.
  • You will have blood samples taken in case you need a blood transfusion.
  • Let your doctor know if you have a cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout or other illness prior to surgery. This may require that your reschedule your procedure.
  • Do not smoke. This will help you to recover quicker.

On the Day of the Surgery

  • If you are to have general anesthesia, you will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything after midnight the night before the surgery.
  • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After Surgery

  • You will have a dressing over your knee for the next few days. You will need to keep it dry and avoid showering.
  • Most patients can go home the same day.
  • You will have to remain on crutches as recommended by your doctor.
  • This surgery has a quick recovery with most patients feeling much better within the first few days, but full recovery depends on the complexity of your knee repair. Full recovery may take several months.

Recovery: what to expect in the next few weeks

  • While you may feel much better after the first week, you need to follow your physician’s orders on use of crutches and recommended activities.
  • You will prescribed a series of appointments for physical therapy to help regain strength in your knee.

ACL Repair Q&A

What does knee arthroscopy involve?

A patient is fully sedated. The surgeon makes several tiny incisions around the knee, injects a visualizing fluid to clean the joint and inserts a fiber optic camera into the joint that sends detailed images of the site to a television monitor. The orthopaedic surgeon can see throughout the joint to determine what steps are needed to repair the knee.

The surgeon may have to graft tissue to the ligament to make the repair and rebuild the ligament. In some cases where there are multiple torn ligaments, you may have to undergo additional procedures over time to allow for the joint to be rebuilt.

How many incisions are made?

Three to four tiny incisions are made around the knee.

How long do I stay in the hospital?

Patients will normally be able to go home the same day, but in some cases, there may be an overnight stay.

What is the recovery time?

Most patients feel better after the first week, but may have to remain on crutches until the doctor releases them. For full recovery, it typically takes several months for the knee joint to heal. Your doctor can advise on your activities and when you can return to work or school.

Find a Doctor

WakeMed is proud to partner with many orthopaedic specialists

Find a Doctor

Bith and Parent Education