Multi-Ligament Knee Injury Overview
There are four major restraints (ligaments) that make up the knee joint. Each has its own function but they work together to stabilize the knee joint during motion. These ligaments include the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and posterolateral corner (PLC). In severe knee injuries, more than one ligament in the knee is often damaged. This is considered a complex knee injury, or a multi-ligamentous knee injury. These injuries can occur as the result of a high energy event such as a car accident, serious fall from height, or trauma during sports. Depending on the specific mechanism, a multitude of injury patterns can be present. Complex knee surgeon Dr. Robert Boykin specializes in treatment of complex knee injuries for patients in Asheville, Arden, Fletcher and surrounding communities.
In most cases of a multi-ligamentous knee injury, a surgery is needed to stabilize the knee. A history, physical exam, X-rays, and a MRI will help to detail the extent of damage to the knee. There are some cases where one ligament may heal on its own while another will require surgery. There are also occasions where more than one of the ligaments will need to be reconstructed. Usually a significant trauma to the knee is required to tear more than one ligament in the knee. It is of the utmost importance that patients are seen by a medical professional shortly after injury to make sure there is no damage to the blood vessels or nerves of the leg.
Complex Knee Surgery
A multi-ligament knee reconstruction surgery is based on a patient’s specific injury pattern. Dr. Boykin will determine which structures in the knee are injured and which need to be treated with surgery. During the procedure, some or all of the ligaments will be repaired or reconstructed, while others may be left alone to heal. In general, a reconstruction involves removing the remnants of the damaged ligament and placing a graft in the exact location of the original ligament. Multi-ligament knee reconstruction may involve a combination of one’s own tissue as a graft (autograft) and grafts which are donated tissue (allograft). The procedure is done with a combination of open and arthroscopic techniques and requires multiple incisions to address all of the damaged areas. A multi-ligament knee reconstruction is a complex procedure, and Dr. Boykin will take great care to address each damaged structure at the time of surgery.
Recovery Following Multi-Ligament Knee Injury
Due to the serious nature of this procedure, a thorough and intensive rehabilitation program will need to be followed post-op. Physical therapy begins immediately; however, knee range of motion may be limited for a period of time. Bracing, weight bearing, and progression with therapy is individualized based upon the type and extent of injury.
For additional information on multi-ligament knee injuries, or to learn more about multi-ligament knee reconstruction, please contact the office of Dr. Robert Boykin treating patients in Asheville, Arden, Fletcher and surrounding North Carolina communities.