Allograft for ACL Reconstruction
Damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is common in sports like basketball, soccer, and football. This thin piece of tissue connects your thighbone to your shinbone, helping to stabilize the knee. Injuring the ACL doesn’t have to mark the end of your sports activity. Procedures like an ACL allograft can relieve pain, improve your mobility, and get you back on your feet.
NY Orthopedics’ team of medical professionals specializes in both surgical and non-surgical practices. We have offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau and Rockland counties, and New Jersey. Our physicians are well-renowned, serving both professional and amateur athletes alike.
What is an Allograft vs an Autograft?
An autograft is a surgical procedure where a knee surgeon replaces or reconstructs the ACL using the patient’s own tissue to reconstruct the tendon.
By contrast, an allograft takes tissue from another donor to achieve the same effect.
While the healing time and risks are similar between an allograft and autograft, allografts can be less painful since the surgeon does not have to take additional tissue from the knee.
However, age is a major consideration when choosing between an allograft and autograft. Allografts are generally suggested for patients over the age of 35.
What happens during an ACL Allograft?
Once you have been cleared for the procedure, tissue is harvested from a donor, then sterilized, prepared, and tested for safety. At your procedure, the surgeon will place you under general anesthesia and make two small incisions around the kneecap. Using an arthroscope (a small camera inserted into the incision), your surgeon will begin to reconstruct the ACL using specialized surgical tools. The surgeon removes the damaged ACL and grafts the donor tissue to the knee bones, often using screws and pins to provide more stability.
How to Prepare for ACL Allograft
When preparing for an ACL allograft, your doctor may ask you to do a few things before the procedure. Keep in mind, anytime anesthesia is involved, you should plan to have someone drive you home:
- You will be asked to avoid blood thinners like aspirin, or NSAIDs like Ibuprofen.
- You will have to fast at least 8 hours before the procedure (including solids and liquids).
- Do not drink alcohol the days before your procedure, especially if you consume more than 1 or 2 drinks a day.
- If you are a smoker, consider quitting, as regular smoking can inhibit the healing process.
What is the Recovery Time for an ACL Allograft?
Your surgeon will likely place your knee in a brace and ask you to use crutches for up to 6 weeks, although many patients can be taken off crutches 2-3 weeks after the procedure. The total recovery time will be different from patient to patient. Many patients can get back to light walking 1-2 weeks after surgery. It may take as long as 9-12 months before returning to sports, as it’s important that your new tendon has plenty of time to fully heal and graft to your knee joint.
There are some things you can do at home to help accelerate the healing process:
- Pain medications can help alleviate any discomfort after your surgery
- Icing your knee will help reduce any swelling
- Get plenty of rest and avoid activity to give your tendon time to heal
- Try light physical therapy at home to keep your muscles and joints strong
Common Risks of an ACL Allograft
Complications with autografts and allografts are nearly identical but incredibly rare. Here are a few risks you should look out for after either procedure:
- Nerve damage
- Knee instability
- Decreased range of motion
- Can I expect a full recovery after an ACL allograft?
- Absolutely! Total recovery is common after an ACL allograft. Athletes can expect a full recovery at full performance after the tendon has time to heal.
- Is an allograft painful?
- Many patients experience mild to moderate pain after an allograft, but pain medications and icing can help to reduce any pain.
- How long does the procedure take?
- Generally, it takes a surgeon around 60-90 minutes to complete an ACL allograft. This does not include post-op procedures and getting you ready for the drive home.
NY Orthopedics Sports Medicine Surgeons
- STEPHEN J. NICHOLAS, M.D.
- BENJAMIN B. BEDFORD, M.D.
- SERGAI N. DELAMORA, M.D.
- SAMEH ELGUIZAOUI, M.D.
- GREGORY GALANO, M.D.
- MARK KLION, M.D.
- MATTHEW GOTLIN, M.D.
- STEVEN J. LEE, M.D.
- MATTHEW (TEO) MENDEZ-ZFASS, M.D.
- NICHOLAS A. WESSLING, M.D.
NY Orthopedics has multiple sports medicine offices in New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, as well as the surrounding counties, including Nassau, Westchester, and Rockland. In addition to autografts and allografts, NY Orthopedics also excels in several therapies for the hip, shoulder, and ankle joints. To learn more about our services or make an appointment, contact us today!