ACL surgery can use patient’s ligament or another

Published 11:41 am Saturday, September 26, 2009

MT asks: I am an active 25-year-old male who loves to play sports. Recently, I was diagnosed with a complete rupture of my ACL ligament.

My knee always gives out, and now I am ready to have surgery. I have read that there are two main types of ligaments used to help reconstruct the ligament. Can you tell me what the difference is between using my own ligament vs. using a donated ligament?

Dr. Patel writes: It sounds like you need the ACL surgery. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the primary stabilizer in the knee to help prevent excessive translation of the knee forward. If the ligament is torn and the patient elects to have surgery, there are several options to help reconstruct the ligament.

One option for the ligament is to use the patient’s own tendon. Options include using the patient’s hamstrings, a portion of the quad tendon or a portion of the patellar tendon. Some benefits of using your own tendon are that there is no risk contracting any new infections. The tendon may incorporate a little quicker after surgery.

Some downsides are that this requires a bigger surgery/incision. Also, sometimes patients have had fractures of the knee cap and knee pain after using their own patellar tendon.

A donated graft also has advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that the surgery requires a smaller incision and also less pain because there is no significant dissection involved to harvest the tendon.

Some disadvantages include a low risk for contracting infections from the donated graft and also a little slower incorporation of the tendon. In general, studies have shown that both types of graft selection do well and neither is a superior option.

It all depends on the patient’s preference and the surgeon’s comfort level.

Dr. Manish Patel is an orthopedist with Southampton Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center in Franklin. His e-mail address is