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Ask the Expert

Treatment and Recovery for an ACL/LCL Injury

Christopher Cannova, M.D. (l) and Kurt Schluntz, M.D. (r)
In response to the recent injury to Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, Suburban Hospital knee reconstructive surgeons Christopher Cannova, M.D. and Kurt Schluntz, M.D., review the procedure to reconstruct a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and repair a torn Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) and the recovery process.

ACL injuries are very common especially in adolescents and young adults who are active in sports. “After suffering a torn ACL, the ligament is reconstructed using tissue from knee or donor graft,” said Drs. Schluntz and Cannova. “This procedure can take up to 90 minutes. The surgery to repair an LCL injury is a direct repair rather than a reconstruction and much less common. A combined ACL/LCL repair can further complicate the procedure, adding an extra 45-60 minutes to the operation.”

While the surgery only lasts a few hours, the recovery process can take up to six months and sometime more depending on the injury and patient. According to Dr. Schluntz, who performs roughly 100 ACL reconstructions each year and trained with Robert Griffin III’s surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, at the American Sports Medicine Institute, “Extensive physical therapy and rehab are required, as well as the addition of a brace to stabilize the ligaments in the knee. It is important to maintain motion in the knee and strength in the muscles while the ligaments heal.”

Dr. Schluntz adds that “reconstructed ACLs are generally very strong, but for athletes in contact sports there is always a risk of re-injury.”

Both surgeons agree that the prognosis for someone who has had a previous operation to the injured knee is still good; however a return to competitive athletics with a combined injury is more guarded. Young, motivated patients have a good recovery rate which should aid in the recovery process.

Dr. Schluntz is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and a Fellow of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons. His main areas of interest are sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery of the knee and shoulder, as well as joint replacement surgery of the knee.

Dr. Cannova is specialty trained in the newest techniques of minimally invasive hip and knee replacement surgery including partial joint replacement, joint resurfacing and alternative bearing joints. His areas of expertise are joint reconstruction and total joint replacement.

To learn more about these physicians, call Suburban On-Call at 301-896-3939.

To learn more about Suburban Hospital’s Orthopedic program, please visit suburbanhospital.org/services/Orthopedics.

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