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EDUCATION CENTER: Therapies

MCL Reconstruction

Overview
Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) reconstruction replaces an injured or insufficient Medial Collateral Ligament, which runs from the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia). The ligament is most often injured by a sideways blow to the knee while the foot is planted. MCL injuries often coincide with injuries to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) or meniscus.

Detailed Description

Specialist

Orthopedic surgeon


Diagnosis

  1. The doctor will perform various hands-on tests to determine the degree that the knee wobbles and the range of motion it allows, and to rule out other injuries that may require surgery. He or she may also order diagnostic x-rays, MRIs, and possibly blood or urine tests to check for possible abnormalities.
  2. Because the MCL’s long, fibrous cells are fed with plenty of blood, the wound will generally heal on its own. Depending on the severity of the injury, the doctor may order the patient to use crutches or wear a movement-restricting knee brace to protect the ligament while it heals. If the doctor decides that the MCL tear is too large to heal on its own, or is healing with too much laxity, he or she will discuss surgery, including different MCL graft possibilities, with the patient and gain consent.

During the procedure:
The patient is anesthetized and arthroscopy is performed to assess the condition of the MCL and prepare the inside of the knee. The knee is then bent to 30 degrees to provide the best angle possible for MCL reattachment.

Using the arthroscope, the doctor then stitches the ligament together and may anchor it to one or both of the bones with a permanent or biodegradable anchor. The knee is placed in a brace to protect the surgical repair.

Recovery
Hospitalization: Outpatient to 1 night
At home: Several months

  • Use crutches or a brace to walk until your doctor says otherwise.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Stay within your safe range of motion as directed by your doctor.
  • Bathe and shower as usual three days after surgery. (unless your surgeon directs otherwise)
  • Ice the knee.
  • Avoid active sports. Restrictions may last up to 9-12 months after surgery.

Complications/Risks

  • Blood clots (very rare)
  • Surgical wound infection
  • Risk of developing arthritis
  • Weakening of muscles
  • Lack of full range of motion

Medications
Prescription and non-prescription pain relievers.

Follow up with your doctor if:
Pain, swelling, redness, drainage or bleeding increases in the knee. Also if you experience any symptoms suggestive of infection such as general malaise (tiredness) or fever.

Last updated: 26-Oct-01


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