Your damaged ACL is removed and replaced with a healthy tendon from another part of your body to restore stability and function to the knee joint.

ACL Reconstruction

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How do I know if I need an ACL reconstruction?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) plays an important role in stabilising the knee joint, particularly for rotational movements. ACL tears most frequently occur during sports that involve sudden stops and starts with pivoting manoeuvres, such as soccer, netball and basketball. There is usually a clearly defined event where something pops, snaps or cracks. You may feel a sensation of your knee giving way, and it will begin to swell. This is your ACL ligament tearing. 

Most people that experience an ACL tear need reconstructive surgery as it cannot heal by itself. It is among the most common procedures in the world and has a high rate of success. Using tiny incisions to insert a camera and miniature tools, the torn ligament is replaced with a healthy tendon from another part of the knee such as the hamstring, patella tendon or quadriceps. This procedure restores stability and function to the knee joint with a return to high impact sport possible within a year.

What are the general recovery times?

The operation will take 1-2 hours but you are likely to stay in hospital overnight. The first few weeks after surgery are important in determining the long-term outcomes. Ice packs and elevation can be used to control the swelling with the focus on achieving a completely straight knee by the end of the first week. This will avoid the risk of a possible limp.

Physiotherapy exercises will help to bend the knee and strengthen the surrounding muscles. A gradual return to walking with your full weight is an important aspect of maintaining the muscle tone. It can take up to 12 months to make a full recovery.


Before your ACL reconstruction aka Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction or ACL Repair, you'll undergo a thorough evaluation, including medical history review and physical exams. You may be asked to stop certain medications and to do pre-surgical exercises to strengthen the knee. Fasting for a specific period before the surgery is typically required. It's also important to arrange for someone to drive you home post-surgery and assist you during the initial recovery phase.


Other knee surgeries and procedures

Total knee replacement approaches

ACL Reconstruction FAQs

ACL reconstruction surgery typically takes between 1 to 2 hours. This duration can vary depending on individual circumstances and the specific techniques used by your orthopaedic surgeon.
Deciding to have ACL reconstruction surgery depends on several factors, including your activity level, the severity of your ACL injury, and your personal health goals. If you're an active individual or an athlete who wishes to return to high-level physical activities, ACL reconstruction can be a beneficial option. It's best to discuss your specific situation with your orthopaedic surgeon to make an informed decision.
Yes, a reconstructed ACL can tear again, although this is not common. The risk of re-tearing the ACL or injuring the other knee's ACL is present, especially if you return to high-impact sports or activities without proper rehabilitation and training.
ACL reconstruction itself does not lead to knee replacement. However, if the knee joint suffers from chronic instability or develops arthritis over time, which can sometimes happen after severe knee injuries, knee replacement might become necessary in the long term.


The ability to drive after ACL reconstruction depends on several factors, including which knee was operated on, your overall recovery, and your ability to control the vehicle safely. For surgeries on the right knee, it may take longer to resume driving. Typically, patients can drive after 4-6 weeks, but always consult with your surgeon for personalised advice.
A successful ACL reconstruction can last for many years. The longevity of the reconstruction depends on various factors, including surgical technique, rehabilitation, and the patient's lifestyle and activities. With proper care and avoidance of high-risk activities, the reconstructed ACL can remain stable for a long time.
Yes, you can have an MRI after ACL reconstruction. MRI scans are often used to assess the status of the reconstructed ligament and to evaluate other structures in the knee. It's important to inform the MRI technician about any screws or hardware in your knee, as these can affect the imaging.

How much will my knee surgery cost?

Understanding the cost of your treatment is an important consideration before committing to surgery, but it’s not always easy to find the information you need. Learn more about the factors which contribute to the cost of your surgery:

Treatment Costs – ACL Reconstruction

What will my treatment and recovery look like?

Familiarising yourself with your treatment program and understanding the recovery process are important steps to take on the pathway to surgery

Patient Journey – Knee Surgery


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