Reviewed by Joseph Maloney, MD
Thermal shrinkage is a new procedure that is used to treat partial tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). An ACL injury is indicated by instability in the knee. It must be treated because an ACL deficient knee is at greater risk for developing arthritis and contributing to meniscal injury. One procedure used to repair an ACL is surgical reconstruction. Thermal shrinkage is a less invasive alternative to that surgery.
A thermal probe is inserted through an arthroscopic portal. The probe then heats parts of the capsular knee ligaments to shrink and tighten them.
Cryotherapy, the therapeutic use of cold to reduce discomfort, may be used to treat the area.
During the procedure, the most important risk is injury to a nerve near the ACL tear.
Because it is a relatively new procedure, limited information is available on the results of thermal shrinkage on partial ACL tears. Tissue may stretch again, requiring further shrinkage or even an open surgical procedure. This surgery has been performed on shoulders with short-term success but unknown long-term success.
Pain medication may be required.
Follow up with your doctor if
Your knee does not heal properly following surgery.
Last updated: 20-Jun-07