Monday, September 19, 2011

Arthroscopy 101

I'm going to rewind a bit and share some of the finer points of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery. Although my diagnosis included a torn lateral ligament, torn meniscus ligament, and torn ACL, it's the ACL that's considered to be the most important of the bunch, therefore requiring the most attention. If you're reading this and you're already bored, I apologize and you are excused. If you aren't, take my hand and let's begin this exciting journey together because learning is fun!

ACL reconstruction can be an elective surgery, which means it's not entirely necessary (unless it's a severe case). If you are willing to change your lifestyle, i.e. become less active and accept the fact that you'll never be as athletic as you once were, the injury will heal itself over time but the knee will never regain it's full strength. Apparently there are hundreds of thousands of these surgeries every year and skiing accidents represent a huge portion of the causes of ACL tears. I guess I'm not as special as I thought I once was. Just another idiot. An idiot who skied down the mountain (Deer Valley, Utah) on one leg after falling. That wasn't a good idea.

My surgery was of the arthroscopic variety, which is a minimally invasive procedure involving the insertion into a joint (arthro) with a tiny camera (scope) to assess the damage and make repairs. The repairs are made using other tools that are inserted into the knee. The incision on the front my knee is about three inches long with another incision of an inch or so made on the inside of my knee for the meniscus repair. My ACL was rebuilt using a graft from my patellar tendon, which is just one of several options a surgeon can use, including a hamstring graft and a graft from a cadaver. Once the surgeon finished his magic routine and carved a happy face and his initials inside my body, I was all set. The entire operation took about three hours, which is why general anesthesia was required. I was released into the wild after several more hours of recovery room observation.

If you've read this far, I commend you, because I almost fell asleep several times trying to write it. Also, the season premier of How I Met Your Mother is coming on in a couple of minutes and I haven't eaten dinner. Priorities.

1 comment:

  1. In high school I played soccer (I was horrible) and my good friend torn her ACL and had surgery I never got to ask her about it because she was so upset she had to sit out on the rest of the soccer season... But thanks to you I now feel well informed.