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ACL Reconstruction

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery creates a new ligament inside your knee to replace the torn ACL and restore stability to the knee joint.

Graft choice

The Shelbourne Knee Center uses a section of patellar tendon to reconstruct the torn or missing ACL. This can be taken from either knee. After years of experience we have found that taking the graft from the opposite (contralateral) knee allows for a faster, more predictable recovery.

We choose the patellar tendon over other grafts because it is a strong graft with a low failure rate.





ACL reconstruction begins with an arthroscopy (scope). This procedure is used to examine the knee joint and look for meniscal and/or bone surface damage. These injuries are treated at this time.


Remove ACL and Clean Notch

Following the scope, ACL reconstruction begins with a 3 inch incision in the front of the knee. After exposing the knee joint, the damaged ACL is removed and the surrounding area (notch) is cleaned to make room for the new ACL.

Remove ACL

Tunnels for the graft

Tunnels* are drilled independently through the tibia and femur so the graft can be placed.


*Tunnel placements illustrated are approximate locations

The new ACL

The new ACL is a graft obtained from the patellar tendon. The graft can be taken from the other normal knee. This is called a contralateral graft. The graft can also be taken from the knee with the torn ACL. This graft is known as an ipsilateral graft. The graft is removed with bone (bone plugs) from the knee cap (patella) and the shin (tibia) at both ends.


Inserting the new ACL

Each of the bony ends are inserted into the tunnels and the graft is pulled into place. Sutures are attached to the bone plugs and then tied over buttons to hold the graft in place. A light dressing is applied and the patient is taken to a private room for an overnight stay.

Inserting new ACL

Before being dismissed from the hospital, the postoperative rehabilitation program is outlined and demonstrated for both the patient and family.