Damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the most frequently seen injury in children and young people and is accelerating rapidly year on year, for a variety of reasons.
The ACL is the largest ligament in the knee and controls the back and forth motion of the knee, along with the less commonly injured posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), which helps give stability.
If the ACL is torn or ruptured, the knee becomes unstable when it is twisted and can give way, as well as losing its full range of movement. As the knee gives way, the delicate structures inside it, as well as the joint surface and meniscal cartilages, may also be damaged.
Adrian has pioneered a number of new procedures for treating ACL injuries in children and, in some cases, it may now be possible to re-attach the torn ligament using keyhole surgery. Traditionally, ACL surgery meant a recovery time of up to a year, whereas these new procedures have reduced this to around four months. New techniques also minimise the risk of growth disturbance which is a major concern when operating on young children.
Ligament repair is usually easier to do in the first 6 – 8 weeks following an injury, although in some cases repairs have been carried out up to 10 years later.
It is widely recognised that up to 95% of ACL and PCL tears in young children are repairable. A neglected ACL or PCL injury results in altered biomechanics of the knee and an increased risk of secondary arthrosis in the long term.