An Overview on Posterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction
The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is located inside the knee joint near the back of the knee and is responsible for keeping the tibia (leg bone) from moving backward (posterior) in relation to the femur (thigh bone). The PCL can become injured during athletic activities or from a traumatic accident. PCL injuries account for approximately 20 percent of all knee ligament injuries and can cause significant knee instability in patients. In many cases, PCL injuries are treated non-operatively. However, if the ligament experiences a more severe tear causing persistent dysfunction, a PCL reconstruction may be needed. Dr. Brian Waterman offers PCL surgery to patients who have experienced disability caused by a PCL tear.
The PCL can be torn in isolation or in conjunction with the other major knee ligaments. A mild tear can typically heal on its own, but severe tears will require a PCL surgery to reconstruct the ligament.
Before performing a PCL reconstruction, Dr.Waterman will perform a thorough knee assessment using an MRI scan to determine the extent of injury, location of injury and pattern of injury. During the reconstruction procedure, Dr.Waterman will reconstruct the damaged ligament with a graft, either from the patient or from a donor. Dr.Waterman will finish the PCL surgery by utilizing strong sutures to tightly secure the ligament to its closest native footprint at the original attachment site of the tibia and femur.
Recovery and Rehabilitation after PCL Reconstruction
A physical therapy program is critical to a patient’s recovery following a PCL reconstruction. Dr.Waterman will provide a detailed program and will instruct all patients to begin the program immediately after surgery to regain range of motion and to strengthen the knee. A brace is typically required for six weeks to prevent gravity from stretching out the reconstructed ligament. Patients cannot place weight on the affected leg for six weeks so crutches must be used during that time. After six weeks, patients will begin strengthening the knee and leg. Patients can expect a full recovery and return to athletic activities approximately six to nine months following PCL surgery in most cases.