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Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Repair/Reconstruction

at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital

If you have to undergo repair or reconstruction surgery for a torn lateral collateral ligament, Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital is the perfect hospital for you. Our team of orthopedic surgeons has extensive knowledge and vast experience in performing both traditional and minimally invasive procedures for this kind of injury.

To ensure your surgery will go exactly as planned, you will first be thoroughly examined by our well-trained medical team so as to eliminate any underlying health problem that may cause a postoperative complication. Because we provide complete healthcare services, you can also benefit from rehabilitation at our hospital when it is time for you to do physical therapy.

The lateral collateral ligament is a thin string of tissue that runs along the outside of your knee. Injury to your lateral collateral ligament may occur as a consequence of trauma, such as when a significant amount of force is applied to the inner part of the knee. This is very common in football players. If your lateral collateral ligament is torn or stretched, you will most likely need surgery to have it repaired or reconstructed.

The surgery you will undergo for a lateral collateral ligament tear will be traditional, open surgery, as it cannot be performed by using a minimally invasive approach due to the placement of the ligament outside of the knee joint. If you have a significant lateral collateral ligament tear, experience severe knee instability, or cannot alleviate your pain by using non-invasive methods, surgery is highly recommended for you.

Lateral Collateral Ligament Repair

Repairing the lateral collateral ligament is usually a traditional procedure, as the surgeon will need to make a larger incision in order to observe with accuracy the extent of the injury. During lateral collateral ligament repair, a medium incision will be made in the area of your affected knee.

Afterward, the surgeon will reposition the ligament into the correct and normal anatomical placement by using sutures, screws, or staples. These fixation devices have the purpose of reconnecting and restabilizing the ligament tissue.

Lateral Collateral Ligament Reconstruction

If you were told you need a lateral collateral ligament reconstruction, the first thing that will happen during surgery after you receive anesthesia is the surgeon making a small, open incision in the knee to allow the proper view of the damaged ligament and the tissue around it.

The reconstruction of your lateral collateral ligament is performed by creating precise small drill holes in the thighbone and the smaller lower leg bone. Eventually, the reconstructed ligament will resemble the anatomic location of the original one. The new ligament will also be held in place by sutures or screws.

The main benefits of undergoing lateral collateral ligament repair or reconstruction are the restoration of the knee function, having a stable knee, and regaining your range of motion in your knee. Following this surgery, your knee will no longer give way, and you will no longer experience the pain that is associated with this kind of injury. Other noteworthy benefits of lateral collateral ligament repair or reconstruction include the following:

  • no more stiffness of the knee that was causing it to lock
  • no more difficulty bearing weight on the affected knee
  • no more knee catching when trying to walk
  • no more foot numbness caused by the injury to the ligament
  • regaining the ability to bend and extend your knee normally

Recovery

No one but your orthopedic surgeon will be able to tell you how long your recovery will be following lateral collateral ligament repair or reconstruction, as this greatly depends on the severity of your injury. Because this is usually a procedure that is outpatient, you will only have to spend a few hours in the hospital. However, some people will have to stay overnight if they had a particularly serious injury to the ligament.

Recovery will involve using crutches for up to 6 weeks, applying ice to the site of the surgery to reduce swelling, and taking painkillers. As soon as you no longer need to use your crutches, you will be able to do physical therapy, whose purposes are to increase the strength and flexibility of your knee and to restore your balance and proprioception, which is the way we perceive the position and movement of our bodies. Your full recovery will generally take approximately 6 months. Nevertheless, the time you have restrictions in your life due to the surgery may be shorter or longer.

Risks

As with any other type of surgical procedure, lateral collateral ligament repair or reconstruction implies a series of risks. Nonetheless, because you will undergo a thorough examination to assess your overall health before the surgery, your chances of experiencing the following problems after the procedure will be very low:

  • chronic pain
  • knee weakness
  • peroneal nerve injury
  • blood clots
  • knee instability
  • disease transmission (if deceased donor)
  • bleeding

Complications

The occurrence of complications after a lateral collateral ligament repair or reconstruction is quite rare, particularly if the surgery was performed by a skilled and experienced orthopedic surgeon, which is always the case at our hospital. Unfortunately, some patients may still experience mild, moderate, or severe complications due to factors beyond the surgeon’s or the medical team’s control, such as:

  • infection
  • deep vein thrombosis
  • injury to the blood vessels or nerves
  • the new ligament re-rupturing due to excessive force on the knee

It is important to know that only 1% of people who undergo lateral collateral ligament repair or reconstruction experience health complications after the procedure, which means that this type of surgery is very safe, as well as effective in restoring the normal function of your knee. To benefit from superior healthcare and treatment, opt to have your lateral collateral ligament repair or reconstruction at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital.